The other school funding divide: States with more poor students tend to spend less, creating hard-to-fix disparities. See more national education news here

| August 6, 2019

By Matt Barnum • Chalkbeat

The image of school funding inequities in the American mind is often urban schools serving predominantly low-income students of color going without, while just miles away, suburban schools serve more white, affluent students in gleaming facilities with an army of college counselors. 

Those “savage inequalities,” as they were termed in a prominent 1991 book, certainly still exist in some parts of the country. There’s another key driver of school funding inequity, though, one that is harder to see and might be harder to fix: massive differences in spending between states. 

Connecticut, for instance, spends more than twice as much as Mississippi, which has dramatically more poor students. A number of the states that spend the most per student (Massachusetts, Minnesota, and New Jersey, for instance) also have relatively few low-income students. And many of the states that spend the least (Arizona, Mississippi, and California) serve more low-income students and students of color.

There are exceptions. But that pattern likely explains in part recent reports showing that districts serving low-income students and students of color get less in state and local education dollars. That matters, as dollars translate into more education services and better academic outcomes, according to recent research.

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