Special Report
Education Funding

School Funding Data Shine a Bright Light on States’ Priorities

By The Editors — June 06, 2018 2 min read
  • Save to favorites
  • Print

Money is the lifeblood of American education. The nation spends more than half-a-trillion dollars each year on elementary and secondary schools, not counting capital funding and infrastructure costs. And the lion’s share of it comes out of state and local coffers—$301.6 billion from the states, $292 billion in local money in fiscal 2015, the U.S. Department of Education reported in January. (The feds? They kicked in less than a tenth of the total that year—just $55 billion.)

But the gross numbers say nothing about whether that money is adequate to educate 56 million schoolchildren, whether it’s spread evenly among 13,000 school districts, or about the economic and political hurdles that policymakers face in spending those hard-fought tax dollars.

The latest edition of Quality Counts 2018 takes a detailed look at what’s behind this year’s school finance grades from the Education Week Research Center, first reported as part of the annual state-by-state ranking of the nation’s schools released in January. Under the new Quality Counts format, this second of three reports digs deep into data illuminating school finance from two important angles: overall state-by-state spending; and funding equity, or just how fairly that money is spent.

The results can be surprising—and instructive. They show: high-spending states whose overall funding masks the many districts that fall behind their wealthier peers; big differences in how much of their taxable wealth policymakers spend on schools from state to state; and, just how far certain states have to go to bring all students up to the national average on K-12 spending.

Providing context for all this, Education Week‘s state policy and finance reporter Daarel Burnette II examines the web of economic and political forces that determine how much K-12 policymakers have available to spend on schools, how they slice up that pie, wild cards like the fallout from regional economic problems, and the challenge of selling funding increases to tax-averse voters. The report also takes a look at how the courts and civil rights groups are turning up the heat to assure that disadvantaged communities don’t get left behind on school spending.

In September, the final installment of Quality Counts 2018 will provide detailed analysis of student achievement across states as well as the Research Center’s annual “Chance for Success Index,” a cradle-to-career look at how each state’s educational system stacks up when it comes to preparation for a positive outcome over a person’s lifetime.

For more detail on this topic and others, register for the free June 27 webinar, “Quality Counts 2018: Follow the Money—School Finance and Funding.” And go to www.edweek.org/go/qc18 to catch up on the 50-state report card on the nation’s schools in the special report released earlier this year.

Related Tags:

A version of this article appeared in the June 06, 2018 edition of Education Week as School Funding Data Shine a Bright Light on States’ Priorities

Events

This content is provided by our sponsor. It is not written by and does not necessarily reflect the views of Education Week's editorial staff.
Sponsor
IT Management Webinar
Build a Digitally Responsive Educational Organization for Effective Digital-Age Learning
Chart a guided pathway to digital agility and build support for your organization’s mission and vision through dialogue and collaboration.
Content provided by Bluum
This content is provided by our sponsor. It is not written by and does not necessarily reflect the views of Education Week's editorial staff.
Sponsor
Data Webinar
Drive Instruction With Mastery-Based Assessment
Deliver the right data at the right time—in the right format—and empower better decisions.
Content provided by Instructure
This content is provided by our sponsor. It is not written by and does not necessarily reflect the views of Education Week's editorial staff.
Sponsor
Teaching Profession Webinar
How Does Educator Well-Being Impact Social-Emotional Awareness in Schools?
Explore how adult well-being is key to promoting healthy social-emotional behaviors for students. Get strategies to reduce teacher stress.
Content provided by International Baccalaureate

EdWeek Top School Jobs

Teacher Jobs
Search over ten thousand teaching jobs nationwide — elementary, middle, high school and more.
View Jobs
Principal Jobs
Find hundreds of jobs for principals, assistant principals, and other school leadership roles.
View Jobs
Administrator Jobs
Over a thousand district-level jobs: superintendents, directors, more.
View Jobs
Support Staff Jobs
Search thousands of jobs, from paraprofessionals to counselors and more.
View Jobs

Read Next

Education Funding What America Spends on K-12: The Latest Federal Snapshot
About 93 percent of K-12 spending came from state and local sources in 2019-20—but more-recent year totals will reflect federal relief aid.
2 min read
Education Funding Opinion How You Can Avoid Missing Out on COVID Relief Money
We’re losing the race against the clock to spend ESSER funds, but there are solutions.
Erin Covington
3 min read
Illustration of cash dangling from line and hand trying to grasp it.
F. Sheehan for Education Week/Getty
Education Funding K-12 Infrastructure Is Broken. Here's Biden's Newest Plan to Help Fix It
School districts will, among other things, be able to apply for $500 million in U.S. Department of Energy grants for HVAC improvements.
2 min read
Image of an excavator in front of a school building.
iStock/Getty
Education Funding Less Funding, Less Representation: What a Historic Undercount of Latinos Means for Schools
Experts point to wide-ranging implications, including how much federal funding schools with large Latino populations will get.
3 min read
Classroom with Latino boy.
Prostock-Studio/Getty