Inequitable school funding called ‘one of the sleeper civil rights issues of our time’
Funding for public education in most states is inadequate and inequitable, creating a huge obstacle for the nation’s growing number of poor children as they try to overcome their circumstances, according to a set of reports released Monday by civil rights groups.
Students in the nation’s highest-spending state (New York) receive about $12,000 more each year than students in the lowest-spending state (Idaho), according to the reports, and in most states school districts in wealthy areas spend as much or more per pupil than districts with high concentrations of poverty.
In addition, many states were spending less on education in 2012 than they were in 2008, relative to their overall economic productivity, according to the reports.
The two reports – the Education Law Center’s fourth annual report card on school finance and a companion piece co-authored with the Leadership Conference Education Fund – are meant to help galvanize policymakers and activists to take on longstanding school funding disparities.
“School funding decisions are one of the sleeper civil rights issues of our time,” said Wade Henderson, president of the Leadership Conference on Civil Rights and Leadership Conference Education Fund. “The evidence from across the country is clear and compelling: Our nation must dramatically change the way that educational resources are distributed so that there is true equity in America’s classrooms.”
Henderson pointed to a little-known 1973 Supreme Court case as one reason for why inequitable funding has been such a difficult problem for activists to tackle.
In San Antonio Independent School District v. Rodriguez, justices ruled that it was legal to base state school funding formulas on local property taxes, even though doing so resulted in unequal resources. The court also ruled that there is no federal constitutional right to an education.
Henderson called the decision a “triumph of states’ rights over human rights,” Inequitable school funding called ‘one of the sleeper civil rights issues of our time’ - The Washington Post: