Report: To close achievement gap, fund schools by need, not ZIP code
A new report calls for school districts to be funded according to need -- not by ZIP code.
February 19th, 2013
06:54 PM ET

Report: To close achievement gap, fund schools by need, not ZIP code

By Sally Holland, CNN

Washington (CNN) - Changing the way schools are funded would help to close the achievement gap between students who live in affluent neighborhoods and those in high poverty areas, according to a report released Tuesday by a congressionally-mandated education committee.

"There is disagreement about exactly how to change the system, but there is complete agreement that achieving equity and excellence requires sufficient resources that are distributed based on student need and that are efficiently used," says "For Each and Every Child," a report by the Equity and Excellence Commission.

A primary source of funding for public schools is local property taxes. The problem: If the school is in a high poverty area, the property taxes tend to be low, and that means less money for the school, and less money to pay teachers.

“Whether a state uses property taxes or not is no excuse for the responsibility a state has to deliver more equitable financing,” said Mariano-Florentino Cuéllar, co-chairman of the commission and a professor at Stanford Law School.

The report cites spending disparities as wide as $7,306 per pupil in Tennessee to $19,520 in Wyoming, with adjustment for student poverty, regional wage variation, school district size and density. There are disparities across districts, too - excluding the top 5% of districts in California, spending ranged from $6,032 to $18,025 per pupil there in 2009.


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Filed under: Arne Duncan • Politics • School funding
December 5th, 2012
04:00 AM ET

Longer school day coming for thousands of students

by John Martin, CNN

(CNN) - School's going to be a little longer for about 20,000 U.S. students next year.

On Monday, The U.S. Department of Education, the Ford Foundation and the National Center for Time and Learning (NCTL), announced the formation of the TIME Collaborative. This initiative will support more than 40 selected schools in Colorado, Connecticut, Massachusetts, New York and Tennessee that will be open an additional 300 hours during the 2013-2014 school year. For schools on a 180-day calendar, that would add more than an hour and a half of instruction per day.

The TIME Collaborative, a partnership between NCTL and the Ford Foundation, is funded by federal, state and private funds. NCTL will provide technical support for schools, while the Ford Foundation is offering $3 million in grant funds.

One of the group’s goals is to reduce achievement gaps for children who live in impoverished communities. "More learning time was simply necessary to close opportunity and achievement gaps," David Farbman, senior researcher at NCTL, wrote on the organization’s official blog.

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Filed under: Arne Duncan • Policy • Practice • School funding
300,000 education jobs lost, White House urges investment
Students and teachers protest education cuts in Los Angeles in May 2011.
August 18th, 2012
06:01 AM ET

300,000 education jobs lost, White House urges investment

By the CNN Wire Staff

(CNN) - Budget cuts are forcing districts to scale back on teachers and staff, resulting in larger class sizes and fewer school days, according to a White House report released Saturday.

More than 300,000 education jobs have been lost since the end of the recession in June 2009, said the report, which was prepared by the White House Council of Economic Advisers, Domestic Policy Council and National Economic Council.

"Think about what that means for our country. At a time when the rest of the world is racing to out-educate America, these cuts force our kids into crowded classrooms, cancel programs for preschoolers and kindergarteners, and shorten the school week and the school year. That's the opposite of what we should be doing as a country," the report quotes President Barack Obama from an address in June.

As a result of the cuts, the national student-teacher ratio increased from 2008 to 2010, from 15.3 to 16, the report said, reversing nearly a decade of gains. Typical class sizes are larger than the ratio because it includes teachers for students with disabilities and other special cases.

See where the candidates stand on education

Some schools are also shaving the number of days students spend behind their desks by shortening the school week, school year and trimming programs like preschool and kindergarten, the report said.


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Filed under: 2012 Election • Policy • School funding • Teachers
Which places spent most per student on education?
While Washington, D.C., tops per-student spending at $18,667, Utah is at the bottom with $6,064.
June 21st, 2012
06:15 PM ET

Which places spent most per student on education?

By Jamie Gumbrecht, CNN

(CNN) - Public school systems spent an average of $10,615 per student in the 2010 fiscal year, an increase of 1.1% from the previous year, according to  Public Education Finances: 2010, a U.S. Census Bureau report released today.

Washington, D.C., schools topped per-pupil spending at $18,667; Utah was lowest, at $6,064. Public schools systems spent $602.6 billion in 2010, a 0.4% decrease since 2009 - the first time the spending level has gone down since the Census Bureau began to keep track.

Although the amount spent per student has steadily crept up in recent decades, it can vary widely based on cost of living and operating. Of the 50 largest school systems, New York City School District spent the most per student in 2010 at $19,597.

Make no mistake: Spending a lot of money doesn't mean a kid is getting a good education, and spending less doesn't mean it's bad. Per-pupil spending comes up often because it's among the few easy-to-compare measurements  that crosses school, district and state lines, said Matthew Chingos, a researcher with Brookings Institution's Brown Center on Education Policy.

“Per-pupil funding is a pretty terrible measure of quality of education,” Chingos said. “In some case, it matters, but sometimes it’s hard to find evidence it matters.”


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Filed under: Economy • School funding