Find your next job fast at the Jan. 28 Virtual Career Fair. Register now.
Special Report
Education Funding

School Funding Data Shine a Bright Light on States’ Priorities

By The Editors — June 06, 2018 2 min read

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

School & District Management Webinar Examining the Evidence: Catching Kids Up at a Distance
As districts, schools, and families navigate a new normal following the abrupt end of in-person schooling this spring, students’ learning opportunities vary enormously across the nation. Access to devices and broadband internet and a secure
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
School & District Management Webinar
Branding Matters. Learn From the Pros Why and How
Branding your district matters. This webinar will provide you with practical tips and strategies to elevate your brand from three veteran professionals, each of whom has been directly responsible for building their own district’s brand.
Content provided by EdWeek Top School Jobs
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
School & District Management Webinar
How to Make Learning More Interactive From Anywhere
Nearly two-thirds of U.S. school districts are using hybrid learning right now with varying degrees of success. Students and teachers are getting restless and frustrated with online learning, making curriculum engagement difficult and disjointed. While
Content provided by Samsung

EdWeek Top School Jobs

Elementary Teacher
Madison, Wisconsin
One City Schools
Special Education Teacher
Chicago, Illinois
JCFS Chicago
Elementary Teacher - Scholars Academy
Madison, Wisconsin
One City Schools
Clinical Director
Garden Prairie, IL, US
Camelot Education

Read Next

Education Funding Congress Could Go Big on COVID-19 Aid for Schools After Democrats Take Control
Education leaders hoping for another round of coronavirus relief might get their wish from a new Congress.
2 min read
The U.S. Capitol Dome
Sun shines on the U.S. Capitol dome, Monday, Nov. 2, 2020, on Capitol Hill in Washington. (AP Photo/Patrick Semansky)
Patrick Semansky/AP
Education Funding How Much Each State Will Get in COVID-19 Education Aid, in Four Charts
This interactive presentation has detailed K-12 funding information about the aid deal signed by President Donald Trump in December 2020.
1 min read
Education Funding Big Picture: How the Latest COVID-19 Aid for Education Breaks Down, in Two Charts
The massive package enacted at year's end provides billions of dollars to K-12 but still falls short of what education officials wanted.
1 min read
Image shows an illustration of money providing relief against coronavirus.
DigitalVision Vectors/iStock/Getty
Education Funding Education Dept. Gets $73.5 Billion in Funding Deal That Ends Ban on Federal Aid for Busing
The fiscal 2021 deal increases K-12 aid for disadvantaged students, special education, and other federal programs.
3 min read
FILE - In this Nov. 8, 2020, file photo, the Washington skyline is seen at dawn with from left the Lincoln Memorial, the Washington Monument, and the U.S. Capitol.
In this Nov. 8, 2020, file photo, the Washington skyline is seen at dawn with from left the Lincoln Memorial, the Washington Monument, and the U.S. Capitol. (File Photo-Associated Press)<br/>
J. Scott Applewhite/AP