Washington, D.C. — Today the Center for American Progress, or CAP, released a report that looks at the issues districts face when they attempt to design fair and transparent school funding systems. “Funding Education Equitably: The ‘Comparability Provision’ and the Move to Fair and Transparent School Budgeting Systems” by Saba Bireda focuses on what would happen if the federal government closed a legal loophole that deprives high-poverty schools of needed resources.
“A strengthened comparability provision may be exactly the catalyst needed to force districts to closely examine resource allocation and radically change the way school funds are managed,” says Cynthia Brown, Vice President of Education Policy at CAP. “In the meantime, districts should learn important lessons from funding reforms happening around the country as discussed in this report.”
The report is timely. The White House wants to see the Elementary and Secondary Education Act reauthorized this year. The law promises additional funding for low-income students and requires districts to use state and local funds to offer comparable “services” at Title I and non-Title I schools.
But districts have evaded true comparability for years thanks to a loophole that allows them to demonstrate compliance with Title I requirements without comparing the amount of actual dollars spent. Instead, districts can show comparability by placing equal numbers of teachers at high- and low-poverty schools.
Many—including Sen. Michael Bennet (D-CO) and Rep. Chaka Fattah (D-PA)—have been pushing for this loophole to be closed. This report looks at the steps some districts have already taken to make school funding more transparent and equitable and how they have a significant advantage in adapting to a new comparability provision.
The report includes a summary of the lessons learned from such districts, including:
- Involve stakeholders.
- Expand the role of school leaders.
- Plan for the transition to better, smarter funding systems.
To read the full report, click here.