Inside School Finance: A Special Report

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Welcome to Quality Counts 2019: School Finance, the second installment of Education Week’s annual evaluation of the nation’s K-12 school system.

The first installment, January’s Quality Counts 2019: Chance for Success, dealt with socioeconomic as well as educational factors that affect the prospects of positive outcomes over a person’s lifetime. The third and final piece of this year’s Quality Counts package, coming in September, will offer comprehensive A-F grades and separate rankings for the nation and the states in three categories based on a wide range of indicators, from preschool access and student achievement to parental income and educational attainment.

This second report in the series focuses on an issue of immediate practical concern to every school leader, policymaker, parent, and member of the public: money—how much there is for schools, how it’s distributed, and taxpayers’ complex views about the way it’s spent and what they get for it.

The Education Week Research Center handles the first part of that inquiry, bringing its expertise to bear on the latest federal data on K-12 spending nationally and how each state is doing in raising and distributing those funds. Education Week school finance reporter Daarel Burnette II tackles the second piece. In a pair of articles, he examines the heated debate over how much money actually matters in school quality, as well as the public’s conflicted attitude toward higher funding amid concerns about taxes and misspending.

The package also takes a look at data challenges that researchers at Education Week and elsewhere face in putting together a 360-degree portrait of public school finance—and offers a “wish list” of elusive data that could help bring this picture into sharper focus.

For more detail on how each state performs on Quality Counts’ multifaceted school finance evaluation, be sure to check out the research center’s State Highlights Reports. And register for a free webinar June 11 at 2 p.m. Eastern, featuring guests from the Education Week newsroom and research center who will further unpack the report’s findings.

—The Editors

Vol. 38, Issue 34, Page 10

Published in Print: June 5, 2019, as Inside the Money And Funding Lifts Fueling the Debate Over K-12 Quality
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