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School funding disparity

By Lisa Brody
News Editor
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Crim continued, "Leaders in education reform often reference the success of the Massachusetts education system. From 1993 to 2000, K-12 education funding in Massachusetts nearly doubled, increasing from about $2.5 billion annually to nearly $5 billion. Well-constructed education reforms and an equitable fully funded education program as implemented in Massachusetts is a necessary component to reform and improve our educational system."

Massachusetts has increased their per pupil funding significantly. According to Massachusetts Department of Education, in 2014-2015, per pupil funding ranged from $11,504 to $27,569. "Newark and Washington DC spend $25,000 per pupil. Detroit is receiving $18,000 per child (actually, about $15,000). Inkster, Buena Vista these insolvent schools were spending a lot per kid. There is absolutely no correlation between per pupil spending and achievement," GLEP's Naeyaert said. "Money is important because you can't have teachers, staff, buildings, books, without it. But there is very mixed research about whether spending more correlates to any proficiency. We believe illiteracy is the problem. A district will hire more teachers because that's what the unions want, and they lower class size, but they don't see better results. More important is how it's spent than how much is spent."

Bruce Baker, professor at the graduate school of education at Rutgers University, who has studied Michigan school funding, disagrees.

"One recent major national studied found that infusions of funding to districts serving low-income children have substantive long term impacts. The Mackinac report (a 2015 report released by the Mackinac Center asserting little or no relationship between student achievement and marginal increases to already "high" levels of state spending) attempts to trivialize this study by asserting that the infusions of funding were helping only specific children and the effects relatively at very high cost," Baker said. "Increasing per pupil spending by 10 percent in all 12 school age years increases the probability of high school graduation by seven percentage points for low income children, and by 2.5 percentage points for non-poor children."

Baker then translated it into economic terms. "For children from low-income families, increasing per pupil spending by 10 percent in all 12 school age years boosts adult hourly wages by $2.07 in 2000 dollars, or by 13 percent."

Thiel of Citizens Research Council agrees, "A 2015 student showed that for $1,000 added to the per pupil grant, the pass rate on the MEAP increased 1.5 percentage rate. The question is, why don't we target the money to the lowest performing districts. But adding that is $1 billion, and you just can't do that. But the proof is there. It's just a very expensive proposition."

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