Public Education By State

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Protests by teachers and others over the past year have contributed to the huge increase in school funding in Arizona, North Carolina, Oklahoma and West Virginia, four of the 12 states that have cut school funding – the main source of state revenue for schools them – the most profound in recent decades.

However, despite improvements in the past year, formula funding in these states remains well below the 2008 level. In addition, three of these four states have increased funding for schools, using revenue streams that will be difficult to maintain. over time, making progress is likely. live unless they increase income in a more sustainable way. Kentucky, another state where teachers protested in 2017, has kept state funding funding for schools roughly unchanged last year.

Public Education By State

Public Education By State

However, despite improvements over the past year, formula funding in these states remains well below the level of 2008. Several other profound states that have not experienced major teacher protest in the past year also remain well below previous formula funding levels. . For example, formula funding per student in Texas is now a total of 20 percent lower than the 2008 level adjusted for inflation after lawmakers in that state cut more formula funding last year.

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Total funding per student compared to ten years ago. As of 2016, the most recent year for complete data available, 26 states together provided more state and local funding per student than before the recession, after adjusting for inflation. As state and local revenues have generally continued to improve since 2016, the number of state-funded schools has finally recovered after the Great Recession could continue to grow.

In addition, some states have made new investments that research suggests are likely to improve student outcomes, an approach that is likely to boost those states ’economies relative to their neighbors over time. States that remain tight on funding could fall behind peers unless they generate additional unsustainable income and invest it wisely in their schools.

K-12 schools in each state rely heavily on government aid. On average, 47 percent of U.S. school income comes from government funds. Local governments provide another 45 percent; the remaining 8 percent are from the federal government. (See Figure 1.)

Generally, states distribute most of their funding through a formula that allocates money to school districts to support general education activities, such as teacher salaries, textbooks, electricity, heating, and supplies such as pens and paper. Each state uses its own formula. Most states target at least some funding in districts with the highest needs of students (for example, more students from low-income families) and fewer opportunities to raise property taxes and other local incomes. These features make federal formula funding a particularly important source of funding for schools in high-poverty areas, where children of color have a disproportionate education.

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In addition to this “general” or “formula” funding, the state usually provides revenue for more specific purposes, such as: B. Bus transportation, pension plan contributions for school staff, and teacher training. The states differ from those included in the general funding formula and those funded outside the formula.

Because schools are heavily dependent on state aid, cuts in state funding (especially funding formulas) generally force local school districts to reduce educational services, generate more revenue to fill that gap, or both.

Our previous research found that 12 states cut particularly severe funding cuts between 2008 and 2017 — no more than 8 percent. In this paper, we update our analysis of funding formulas in these 12 states with the largest reductions. Because schools receive additional funding from the state, and because local governments provide a lot of school funding, we provide the most up-to-date data on total state and local school income, using U.S. Census data available for the school year. 2016 la.

Public Education By State

In the spring of 2018, teachers and other school workers in several states came out of their classrooms to protest low wages and other funding constraints. Most of the states where these protests took place were among those that cut the most funding for school formulas since the 2007-08 school year, when the last recession hit. Last year, teachers went on strike or joined other protests in five of the 12 states that cut funding formulas more severely after the last recession – Arizona, Kentucky, North Carolina, Oklahoma and West Virginia.

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Lawmakers in four of these five states – all except Kentucky – have increased funding for school formula over the past year, at least in part in response to protests. Funding increases have been significant, particularly in Oklahoma, where lawmakers have increased formula funding per student by 19 percent, adjusted for inflation. Arizona, North Carolina, and West Virginia also increased funding significantly, with post-inflation increases ranging from 3 to 9 percent per student. But in Kentucky, where teacher protests centered primarily on legislation that cuts teachers’ pensions, formula funding for each student has remained roughly the same as inflation.

Most of the other seven states that have cut their school funding particularly sharply over the past decade have also increased their school funding over the past year (although the increase in such funding has typically been smaller than most protesting states). Alabama, Idaho, Kansas and Utah all increased school funding per student by 1 to 3 percent last year, adjusted for inflation. Another deep state, Michigan, provided funding per student almost equal to last year’s level of inflation adjustment. Two states, Mississippi and Texas, have continued to cut funding, with Texas cutting particularly sharply (in part because formula funding in the state of Texas automatically declines as local funding grows). (See Figure 2.)

Most states protest teachers have cut funding funding formulas so sharply over the past decade that even the huge increase in funding last year has been insufficient to bring funding back to pre-recession levels. In Oklahoma, for example, the funding formula per student remains 15 percent below the 2008 level, including adjustments for inflation. And in Arizona, North Carolina, and West Virginia, too, funding formulas for each student are still well below pre-recession levels. (See Figure 3.)

Funding formulas also remain well below pre-recession levels in several other states that have had no teacher protests in the past year. The funding formula per student in Texas is now 20 percent lower than its 2008 level, adjusted for inflation. The cuts in a number of other states, including Alabama, Kansas, Michigan and Utah, have also been fairly profound.

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While funding increases adopted in the state of teacher protest last year have allowed for salary increases and other improvements for teachers, these gains could be reversed in the coming years unless states take additional steps to increase school funding. . Three of the four protesting states that have increased funding formulas over the past year have used sources of income that may prove unsustainable, making them vulnerable to retracement in the coming years. More accurate:

The fourth largest state to increase teacher salaries, West Virginia, has funded a 5 percent salary increase for teachers and other public employees without generating new revenue by cutting funding elsewhere.

This approach seems relatively sustainable, especially as West Virginia’s revenue recently exceeded expectations, although a drop in demand for the state’s natural resources could reverse the state’s fortunes.

Public Education By State

So far in 2019, political leaders in these states have not proposed any new income for school investments. The Oklahoma Governor has proposed an additional salary increase for teachers, but no new income (and no increase in income to reduce the number of classes or to support general tuition).

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An increase in local government funding, an increase in non-formula state funding, or an increase in federal funding may at least reduce the impact of the reduction in state formula funding on school districts. However, school districts generally cannot rely on these other sources to fully compensate for the large reduction in state formula funding. Local governments generally cannot generate enough revenue to cover extra costs, especially after a recession when property values ​​have plummeted. Government funding outside the formula tends to go to more specific causes, which – although useful in some ways – may not offset cuts in funding to basic school costs. And federal funding, a much smaller source of school funding, is not particularly responsive to cutting state and local funding. As a result, districts are generally less able to make investments that research shows improve student outcomes when states sharply reduce funding formulas, for example. B. increasing the quality of preschool, reducing the number of grades or improving the quality of teachers.

That seems to have been the pattern in most states where teachers protested last year. In fact, the protests themselves typically come from low teacher salaries, oversized class sizes, and a lack of other resources for schools to help students succeed — all inadequate funding.

The effect of the reduction in government funding is reflected in the development of average teacher salaries. About 42 states cut median teacher salaries relative to inflation between 2010 and 2017, the most recent year and available data. (Comparable data for 2008 is not available.) Oklahoma has cut its teacher-adjusted average salary for inflation by 15 percent in 2010-17, the third largest cut in the country behind Mississippi and Colorado, another state where teachers protested last year (but was not among the states that have cut formula funding the most since the beginning of the last downturn). West Virginia and Arizona cut by them

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