NotesFAQContact Us
Search Tips
ERIC Number: ED561081
Record Type: Non-Journal
Publication Date: 2013-May
Pages: 52
Abstractor: ERIC
Reference Count: N/A
Canada's Approach to School Funding: The Adoption of Provincial Control of Education Funding in Three Provinces
Herman, Juliana
Center for American Progress
The academic success of Finland, South Korea, and others on recent international tests has sparked a renewed interest among educators and those concerned with education policy in the United States in looking to other countries for examples of how we might improve our education system. Teacher training and quality in leading countries has received a lot of attention, but we should also be paying attention to and trying to learn from the way other countries fund their schools. Many high-achieving countries have attained greater equity in their systems of school finance, and their methods and approaches can and should serve as examples for how U.S. states could implement more equitable funding schemes. Specifically, this report looks at how our neighbor to the north, Canada--a country that has consistently preformed well on international tests--funds its schools. Several provinces have successfully implemented school-funding systems that are more equitable than those in most U.S. states. To determine how Canada has gone about designing a more equitable school-funding scheme, this report focuses on three provinces--Alberta, British Columbia, and Ontario--each of which has adopted provincial-level funding systems that aim to achieve greater school-funding equality and equity. In these systems the province--which in terms of government organization roughly parallels the state level in the United States--has taken on full responsibility for its own education funding. This report explores the design of these three provinces' different school-funding systems. For each province, we look at where education dollars come from; who has the taxing authority; how school resources are allocated and whether that allocation is more or less equitable; and what other education money is raised and how that might impact the broader goal of equality and equity of school resources. Key findings emerging from this analysis include: (1) These three provinces have successfully transitioned from a joint provincial-local funding system to a provincial-level funding system--a system that has the potential to promote at least equality, if not equity, in school funding; (2) Each province has taken a different approach to designing and implementing a provincial-level funding system, which has included tailoring their system based on specific needs and priorities; (3) There is a great deal of flexibility when it comes to determining how much power local boards and schools retain in terms of their ability to raise local taxes, fundraise, or charge school fees; (4) Each province maintains and reinforces a strong commitment to local control of education; (5) A provincial-level funding system may allow for more stable and predictable school budgeting; (6) These provincial-level funding systems serve as a clear reminder of the key distinction between equality and equity and underscore the fact that how dollars are allocated is just as important as the amount and sources of funding; and (7) Provincial-level funding systems are not without drawbacks and are not a foolproof plan for either sufficient or equitable school resources, but they may offer a way to implement a more equitable funding system and therefore are worthy of study. Education leaders know that adopting equitable funding systems will not in itself lead to equal educational opportunities, but equitable school funding is an essential factor in creating a system in which all students have access to a high-quality education and therefore have the chance to achieve academic success. Education in three provinces, Provincial-level funding systems, Education property taxes, Alberta funding formula, British Columbia funding formula, Ontario funding formula, and Local funding authority, are included in the appendix. [This paper is part of a larger multi-year project on governance conducted in partnership with the Thomas B. Fordham Institute, which evaluates the governance arrangements of the nation's K-12 education system and how they may be improved.]
Center for American Progress. 1333 H Street NW 10th Floor, Washington, DC 20005. Tel: 202-682-1611; Web site:
Publication Type: Reports - Evaluative
Education Level: Elementary Secondary Education
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: Ford Foundation; Eli and Edythe Broad Foundation
Authoring Institution: Center for American Progress; Thomas B. Fordham Institute
Identifiers - Location: Canada