Schools with Poor, Minority Students Get Less State Funds
By Pamela M. Prah, Staff Writer
School districts in Illinois and New York that have large numbers of poor students get some $2,200 less in state and local funds per student than other schools, according to a new report released Oct. 29.
Illinois and New York have the biggest disparity when it comes to funding school districts with large numbers of poor students, The Education Trust said in its report The Funding Gap.
The Education Trust is a nonprofit organization in Washington, D.C. funded, in part, by The Pew Charitable Trusts, the same organization that funds Stateline.org.
Alaska did the best, providing $840 in additional funds per student to school districts with low-income students, followed by Delaware, which provided more than $600.
School districts with large minority populations also get short-changed, the report said. New York again has the largest gap ($2,000 per student), followed by Kansas and Nebraska, both with nearly $1,800. On the flip side, Massachusetts provided an extra $940 per student to school districts with a lot of minority students and Georgia an extra $560.
All dollar figures have been adjusted to take into account local cost differences and the extra cost of educating poorer students, the trust said.
"In too many states, we see yet again that the very students who need the most, get the least," Kevin Carey, senior policy analyst and author of the report, said. "At a time when schools, districts and states are rightly focusing on closing the achievement gap separating low-income and minority students from other students, states can and must do more to close these funding gaps."
A reason that Illinois ranks first in the "poverty" gap is because schools rely so heavily on local property taxes to fund schools, Carey told Stateline.org. The way New York under-funds New York City is the main reason for that state's funding gap, he said. New York's highest court ruled this past June that the state was not giving enough money to New York City schools and ordered the state to revamp its funding system by July 30, 2004.
"Let's be clear," said Kati Haycock, director of the Education Trust. "Congress and the President need to do their part by fully funding No Child Left Behind. But states are primarily responsible for education funding, and they have to do their part, too," she said in a prepared statement.