The report measures statewide funding adequacy based on how many students attend schools in districts with funding below estimated adequate levels.
Today, said Mary Cathryn Ricker, executive director of the Albert Shanker Institute, four out of five states devote a smaller share of their state economy to public schools than they did 15 years ago.
“This is something that has happened over time,” she said, “as state legislatures have either divested from funding their public schools or have chosen more investments in their public schools.”
The report finds Black students are twice as likely as white students to be in districts with below-adequate funding levels, and three-and-a-half times more likely to be in “chronically underfunded” districts.
The report observes not only the funding levels, but the effort a state has made to improve funding. Study co-author Bruce Baker, a professor at the University of Miami, said Florida funding was around the national average before 2007 – but now it’s far below that average.
“It would have 24.9% more over the last six years had Florida maintained its effort rate from before the Great Recession,” he said.
Baker said that amounts to around $44 billion, and if the state would use its economic capacity, it would more than adequately fund its school system. The report recommends every state audit its funding levels for adequacy and fairness, and make this a shared priority with its residents.