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‘Restoring School Funding Should Be an Urgent Priority,’ Report Says

‘Restoring School Funding Should Be an Urgent Priority,’ Report Says

A new report from the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities has used data from both state budget documents and the U.S. Census Bureau as well as enrollment figures from the National Center for Education Statistics to analyze public investment in K-12 schools.

The report found that over the past decade, at least 23 states are providing less funding support for elementary and secondary schools than when the Great Recession took hold in 2008.

Even more cause for concern is that out of these 23 states, eight states "have cut general funding per student by about 10 percent or more over this period" and five of these states "enacted income tax rate cuts costing tens or hundreds of millions of dollars each year rather than restore education funding."

In other words, several states are significantly underfunding their K-12 systems, therefore jeopardizing the overall quality of school districts and education reforms that are proven to boost student achievement.

The report notes that while school funding understandably fell during the economic hard times caused by the Great Recession, in many states funding still continues to fall despite improving financial conditions.

"States made widespread and deep cuts to education formula funding when the recession hit, and close to half of the states still haven’t fully restored the cuts nearly nine years later,” the report says.

The report speculates that education cuts have been a continuing trend over the past decade because:

  • State revenues have been slow to recover
  • States rely too heavily on spending cuts as opposed to a balance of cuts and revenue increases
  • Federal aid to states has been steadily declining
  • Costs are rising due to a growing student population
  • States are making deep tax cuts in both general school funding and income tax

Further, the report notes that forty states have made cuts to capital spending, which is used to both renovate and build schools. As a result, many states are being hindered from planning new development due to an unprecedented lack of funding.

Specifically, the report argues that funding cuts endanger states’ respective abilities to improve teacher quality, trim class sizes, expand learning opportunities, and provide high-quality early education.

On a general note, the report says that continued funding cuts have the potential to ultimately weaken the future workforce and therefore "undermine a crucial building block for future prosperity."

Read the full report.

Nicole Gorman, Senior Education World Contributor

10/24/2016

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