Education Week - January 22, 2014 - (Page 18)

WAR ON POVERTY: Progress & Persistent Inequity WA MT OR ID WY NV Among States, Spending Gaps Have Widened Per-pupil spending rises By Andrew Ujifusa & Michele McNeil In the 50 years since the War on Poverty began, school spending has skyrocketed, but so have disparities in how much states dedicate to K-12 education. Only $4,000 separated per-pupil spending from the states at the top and bottom of per-pupil rankings back in 1969, the earliest comparable data available from the U.S. Department of Education. But in 2009-10, that inflation-adjusted difference stood at $14,673 per student. That year, the District of Columbia spent an average of $20,000 on each student in its schools. In Utah, the lowest perpupil spending state, just barely more than $6,000 was spent on average. Even as questions persist about whether money matters in education, it's unquestionable that spending disparities are growing as states' political and economic climates have changed dramatically in the last half century. Some advocates say the gaps show that many state governments continue to neglect their responsibility to provide low-income students with a high-quality education, thus subverting the War on Poverty's prime purpose. Others, however, argue that the disparities aren't crucial, since the rising spending hasn't translated broadly to significantly higher student achievement, and that it is more important to ask how states are spending their money on education. Cost-of-living differences between regions and resulting salary variations might also explain some of the disparities. Budgets and Court Battles All states have increased their per-pupil spending on public schools significantly since the early years of the War on Poverty. Despite the large gap that separates it from the District of Columbia, Utah's spending rose 87 percent from 1969 to 2010. Among the nine states and the District of Columbia where per-student spending has grown the most, seven are in the Northeast, with five of them in New England. All of the top 10 states have increased their pupil funding by at least $7,390 since 1969. Meanwhile, among the bottom 10 states in spending growth, seven are located in the western United States, including Arizona, California, and Washington state. Among them, the largest increase was in Minnesota, where per-pupil spending rose $5,860. Concurrently, the average per-pupil gap between states rose by 255 percent from $81 in 1969 to $288 in 2010, according to an Education Week analysis. HI UT CA AZ NM TX AK PER-PUPIL SPENDING: District of Columbia $20,910 New York $18,167 New Jersey $17,379 Vermont $15,837 Alaska $15,829 SIX HIGHEST Some of the states with the most spending growth have been spurred by prominent court cases. In several legal battles, plaintiffs have successfully argued that their states were not meeting their constitutional requirements to fund public schools in a fair manner. In seven of the top nine states and D.C. in terms of spending growth, the courts have ruled at some point in favor of plaintiffs seeking more equitable and adequate K-12 spending. Overall, there have been court cases and rulings related to school-funding adequacy in all but five states, according to the National Education Access Network, a project based at Teachers College, Columbia University, that tracks school-funding lawsuits. In 24 states, there have been victories for plaintiffs seeking new, more equitable funding levels. Irrationality and Inequity The fact that K-12 per-pupil expenditures have increased across all states isn't surprising, in part because of new mandates that deal with policies like educating students with special needs, said David Sciarra, the executive director of the Education Law Center, a Newark, N.J.-based group that promotes equitable school funding and criticizes what it deems inadequate funding efforts by states. However, inequities between states persist and have grown because some states have aggressively targeted more resources to low-income children, while others have not, he said. "The amount of funding that schools have within states to support their needs remains, by and large across the country, irrational," Mr. Sciarra said. "Many states continue to resist doing the work of connecting their school finance formula, [and] their school funding, to the actual cost of delivering rigorous standards to give all kids the chance to achieve those standards." A counterpoint to this narrative is a state like New Hampshire, where per-pupil spending grew 249 percent between 1969 and 2010 (the third-highest growth rate after D.C. and Vermont). In 1997, the state Supreme Court ruled in the Claremont School District v. Governor of New Hampshire case that the state's K-12 funding system violated its constitution because it was not "proportional and reason- able" given disparities in local property taxes. The state subsequently altered its school finance formula. "All the states that have improved equity have added money, not just reallocated resources," Mr. Sciarra said. Money Spent Poorly But the misallocation of education funding is precisely the problem state officials should guard against, regardless of any spending disparities across the country, argued Eric A. Hanushek, a senior fellow at the Hoover Institution at Stanford University. When you look at what really matters-student achievement-then the country hasn't made much progress since the War on Poverty launched, Mr. Hanushek said. He pointed to scores on the National Assessment of Educational Progress and international tests that, he said, show U.S. student performance remaining "pretty flat" over recent decades even as K-12 spending has risen dramatically. What's more, he said, high-spending states haven't shown dramatically better student achievement progress than low-spending states. "On average, we haven't spent the money very well," he said. "We're still missing linking spending to outcomes." For example, he said, states are making dramatic changes in education policy, from remaking their accountability systems to tying teacher evaluations to student achievement. "But those decisions have been divorced from any discussion about finance," he said. "There's no funding behind them." Still, amid the recent recession and resulting state-level budget cuts, the federal government has failed to push states to more equitable and adequate spending levels, through waivers from the No Child Left Behind Act and Title I funding, said Wade Henderson, the president and CEO of the Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights, a Washington education advocacy group. "The failure to provide equal funding, the failure to provide quality education, is a violation of states' responsibility to their own constitutions, but also a violation of the federal mandate about how education has to be implemented," Mr. Henderson said. n "THE AMOUNT OF FUNDING THAT SCHOOLS have within states to support their needs remains, by and large across the country, irrational." DAVID SCIARRA, executive director, Education Law Center SOURCES: National Center for Education Statistics 18 | EDUCATION WEEK | January 22, 2014 | Connecticut $15,698 PER-PUPIL SPENDING: Tennessee $8,117 Mississippi $8,104 Arizona $7,968 Oklahoma $7,929 Idaho $7,100 Utah $6,237 SIX LOWEST NOTE: 1969-1970 per-pupil spending figures were adjusted for inflation to 2009-10 dollars using U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics data. SOURCES: National Center for Education Statistics; U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics; Education Week CO NE KS OK AR MS AL LA FL GA IA IL MO IN OH KY TN WV SD ND MN WI MI PA VA NC SC NJ MD DE DC PER-PUPIL SPENDING n $6,000-8,125 n $8,126-10,000 n $10,001-15,500 n $15,501-21,000 NY VT NH ME MA RI CT MAPPING INEQUALITY Since the 1960s, school spending across the country has skyrocketed. During the 2009-10 school year, some states, however, spent vastly more money per student than others. NUMBERS AT A GLANCE Per-pupil spending gaps have increased between states since the War on Poverty programs launched. 256 percent The amount of growth in average disparity between states in per-pupil spending levels from 1969-70 to 2009-10. $10,531 The growth in the gap in per-pupil spending between the highestspending state and the lowestspending state from 1969-70 to 2009-10. 206 points The percentage-point difference in per-pupil spending growth between the District of Columbia, the state with the most growth from 1969-70 to 2009-10, and Utah, the state with the least growth.

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Education Week - January 22, 2014

Education Week - January 22, 2014
50 Years Later, Verdicts Are Mixed On the Nation’s War on Poverty
A K-12 Titan in Congress to Move On
Fla. Pushes Longer Day With More Reading In Struggling Schools
Personal Danger of Data Breaches Prompts Action
News in Brief
Report Roundup
Funds to End For Little Rock Desegregation
Union, District Clash in Pittsburgh Over Teacher Evaluation
Revised GED Ushers in New Era With More Testing Competition
In Five States, Districts Bail Out on Race to the Top Grants
K-12 Publishing, Ed-Tech Markets Experiencing Rising Revenues
Blogs of the Week
Still Segregated After 50 Years: A Visit To Cincinnati’s West End
Among States, Spending Gaps Have Widened
Spending Plan Aims to Relieve Some K-12 ‘Sequester’ Pain
Calif. Transgender Law Takes Effect In Schools, Amid Efforts to Repeal It
State of the States
Wash. Governor Pledges School Aid Boost
BRUCE FULLER: Is Small Beautiful? New York’s tiny high schools lift kids, harden segregation
RUFINA HERNÁNDEZ: A Common Cause for the Common Core
JEFFREY D. WILHELM & MICHAEL W. SMITH: Don’t Underestimate the Power of Pleasure Reading
TopSchoolJobs Recruitment Marketplace
XU ZHAO, HELEN HASTE, & ROBERT L. SELMAN: Questionable Lessons From China’s Recent History of Education Reform

Education Week - January 22, 2014