urban institute nonprofit social and economic policy research

Racial Disparities in Education Finance: Going Beyond Equal Revenues

Sheila Murray, Kim Rueben
Read complete document: PDF


PrintPrint this page
Share:
Share on Facebook Share on Twitter Share on LinkedIn Share on Digg Share on Reddit
| Email this pageE-mail
Document date: November 03, 2008
Released online: November 03, 2008

The text below is an excerpt from the complete document. Read the full report in PDF format.

Abstract

Education is a key pathway out of poverty, yet schools that primarily serve minority students often fail to provide the educational opportunities available in predominantly white schools. A series of state court cases has addressed one cause of that disparity, the dramatic funding differences that result from reliance on local property taxes to fund schools. This paper examines the success of court-mandated solutions in equalizing spending per pupil across districts serving minority and white students. However, we show that there remains much disparity in other measures of educational quality and outcomes.


Introduction

Education has largely been seen as the most direct route out of poverty and into the middle class. Beginning with the Coleman report (Coleman et al. 1966), which documented the disparities in academic achievement across different ethnic and racial groups, there has been concern about understanding these disparities and closing these gaps. An obvious source of the disparity in academic achievement has been the variation in educational opportunities arising from differences in educational spending. In the past, because public schools were funded largely by local property taxes, property-rich and -poor school districts differed greatly in expenditures per pupil. Since the early 1970s, however, state legislatures have, on their own initiative or at the behest of state courts, implemented school finance equalization programs to reduce the disparity in within-state education spending.

Nonetheless, large financial differences remain. In addition, many nonfinancial measures of school quality and student outcomes still show large differences across social and economic groups. Schools with high concentrations of poor or minority students have a higher incidence of school violence, more poorly maintained physical structures, more less-experienced teachers, and fewer AP courses and Internet connections. Further, educational outcomes for poor and minority students, while improving, are still lower than those of their white counterparts.

This paper examines the success of court-mandated solutions in equalizing spending per pupil across districts serving minority and white students. Other measures related to educational quality and educational outcomes differ substantially. The paper first describes the court rulings that affect the role of the property tax in education finance, examining both the initial equalization decisions and the more recent court decisions that call for an adequacy standard. It also reviews the literature on the impact of school finance reform on overall finances.

(End of excerpt. The entire report is available in PDF format.)



Topics/Tags: | Economy/Taxes | Education


Usage and reprints: Most publications may be downloaded free of charge from the web site and may be used and copies made for research, academic, policy or other non-commercial purposes. Proper attribution is required. Posting UI research papers on other websites is permitted subject to prior approval from the Urban Institute—contact publicaffairs@urban.org.

If you are unable to access or print the PDF document please contact us or call the Publications Office at (202) 261-5687.

Disclaimer: The nonpartisan Urban Institute publishes studies, reports, and books on timely topics worthy of public consideration. The views expressed are those of the authors and should not be attributed to the Urban Institute, its trustees, or its funders. Copyright of the written materials contained within the Urban Institute website is owned or controlled by the Urban Institute.

Email this Page