NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis


June 30, 2006

America needs a new method of funding its public schools -- one that finally ensures the students who need the most receive it, that empowers school leaders to make key decisions, and that opens the door to public school choice, says the Thomas B. Fordham Institute.  

Weighted Student Funding is already being tried in several states and districts.  It is a system of school funding based on the following principles:

  • Funding should follow the child, on a per-student basis, to the public school that he/she attends.
  • Per-student funding should vary according to the child's need and other relevant circumstances.
  • It should arrive at the school as real dollars (that is, not teaching positions, ratios or staffing norms) that can be spent flexibly, with accountability systems focused more on results and less on inputs, programs, or activities.
  • These principles for allocating money to schools should apply to all levels (for example, federal funds going to states, state funds going to districts, districts to schools).
  • Funding systems should be simplified and made transparent.

A system based on these principles would be much fairer than the current system.  It would create incentives for schools to attract and educate students from all backgrounds, not just the well-to-do.  It would give school leaders and educators the tools and authority they need to get the job done.  It would finance schools in a way that is much more readily understood by parents, educators, and the taxpayers, making it easier to maintain equity over time.  And it would fit much better the new landscape of public education, in which children attend a diverse range of schools rather than just their neighborhood district school, says the Institute.

Source: "Fund the Child: Tackling Inequity & Antiquity in School Finance," Thomas B. Fordham Institute, June 30, 2006.

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