At Education Resource Strategies (ERS), our work with urban school districts targets how to allocate and organize resources in ways that lead to excellence for all students and schools, equitably and efficiently. The Department of Education (DOE) report shines a light on the critical need to insure resource equity. It also highlights the need to improve data and the understanding of the reasons for spending differences as well as the strategies for addressing the differences- which do not always include equalizing spending. Those responding to the report should understand that:
Strict mandates on expenditure levels without regard to the reasons for them, will not improve equity and excellence, but improved transparency in financial and human resource reporting and problem solving around the reasons for the differences in spending will.
To learn more about school funding systems and how to better calculate spending in a district see the ERS guide, School Funding Systems: Equity, Transparency, Flexibility.
Also, as a quick response to Checker Finn’s point on weighted student funding, ERS has a series of resources that evolved from a summit that brought together districts that have moved to this system. Weighted Student Funding systems do indeed usually result in Federal dollars being more equitably distributed. In addition, districts and state funding is more flexibly allocated which further improves efforts to meet student needs. See Annenberg Institutes for School Reform’s Special issue of VUE, as well as our summit report.
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