ERIC Number: ED495066
Record Type: Non-Journal
Publication Date: 2006-Jun
Fund the Child: Tackling Inequity & Antiquity in School Finance
Thomas B. Fordham Foundation & Institute
Education funding today is a mess, and a solution is needed that addresses its biggest problems: most disadvantaged students do not receive the funding they need; red tape and overhead waste time and money; and new types of education options, like charter schools, are starved for dollars. Unfortunately, until now, so-called solutions have consisted of nothing more than soothing slogans and gimmicks. But a broad, bipartisan coalition now urges a new method of funding the nation's public schools--one that finally ensures the students who need the most receive it, that empowers school leaders to make key decisions, and that opens the door to public school choice. It is a 100 percent solution to the most pressing problems in public school funding--and it is called Weighted Student Funding. This proposal's signatories call on policymakers to transform the school funding system in service of meeting the nation's high ambitions for student learning. Weighted Student Funding, the best hope for achieving equity and accommodating the nation's new diversity of options, is a system of school funding based on five principles and would be much fairer than the current system: (1) Funding should follow the child, on a per-student basis, to the public school that he/she attends; (2) Per-student funding should vary according to the child's need and other relevant circumstances; (3) It should arrive at the school as real dollars (i.e., not teaching positions, ratios, or staffing norms) that can be spent flexibly, with accountability systems focused more on results and less on inputs, programs, or activities; (4) These principles for allocating money to schools should apply to all levels (e.g., federal funds going to states, state funds going to districts, districts to schools); and (5) Funding systems should be simplified and made transparent. In recognizing that successfully moving to weighted student funding is challenging, this report considers a whole range of design challenges: what funds to include in the system; how to set the weights that determine the funding provided for each child; how to handle tricky issues such as restrictive teacher seniority rules and local tax funding; and how to ensure that students attending all kinds of public schools are fairly funded. The report also tackles a set of implementation challenges: how to identify and classify students; how to build the capacity of schools and systems to handle new responsibilities; how to build broad support for the new approach; and how to make the transition from where the nation is now to where it needs to go. (Contains 80 endnotes.) [This report was published by the Thomas B. Fordham Institute. Additional funding for this project was provided by the Walton Family Foundation.]
Descriptors: Educational Finance, Educational Equity (Finance), Public Schools, School Choice, Charter Schools, Accountability, Equal Education, Expenditure per Student, Resource Allocation, School Funds
Thomas B. Fordham Foundation & Institute. 1701 K Street NW Suite 1000, Washington, DC 20006. Tel: 202-223-5452; Fax: 202-223-9226; e-mail: email@example.com; Web site: http://www.edexcellence.net/foundation/publication/index.cfm
Publication Type: Reports - Evaluative
Education Level: Elementary Secondary Education
Sponsor: Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.
Authoring Institution: Thomas B. Fordham Foundation, Washington, DC.