School Funding's Tragic Flaw

May 2008

Federal, state, and local policies designed to distribute education funds systematically provide more money to higher-income students and wealthier schools.

To illustrate how this three-layered K-12 funding benefits students and schools that are better off, authors Kevin Carey and Marguerite Roza examine two schools that from the outside appear the same but inside are quite different: Cameron Elementary School in Fairfax County, Virginia, and Ponderosa Elementary School in Cumberland County, North Carolina.

Both schools educate a large number of low-income students. Yet, because of a number of circumstances, federal, state, and local policies play out such that Cameron has more than twice the money per pupil than Ponderosa, $14,040 vs. $6,773.

The report offers a series of policy ideas to help remedy the problem of funding disparity at the three levels of government.

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