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Increase the Federal Role in School Finance

Nowhere is it written in the Constitution that the federal government must contribute only 9 percent of K-12 spending, and if we’re serious about fixing today’s resource gaps, that must change.

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Nowhere is it written in the Constitution that the federal government must contribute only 9 percent of K-12 spending, and if we’re serious about fixing today’s resource gaps, that must change. Raising the federal role to 25 to 30 percent of national K-12 spending could help bring all states up to a certain guaranteed baseline of funding per pupil.

The federal government could also fund conditional grants to states enabling new “grand bargains” that boost school performance. For example, federal cash could be offered to lift teacher salaries substantially for high-poverty schools, provided that states or districts (1) allow big pay differentials for high-performing teachers or those in shortage specialties like math and science; and (2) defer or eliminate tenure, or condition it on proven student achievement gains.

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