The New Jersey-based Education Law Center released its latest 50-state assessment of public school funding yesterday (“Making the Grade 2019”) and North Carolina fared significantly worse than most states. According to the report, North Carolina ranks 46th in per pupil funding (more than $4,400 below the national average) and next to last in the nation when it comes to its funding effort (defined as K-12 education revenues as a share of state GDP) — ranking above only Arizona.
This is the report’s overall assessment:
Making the Grade 2019 provides compelling evidence that K-12 public school funding continues to be deeply unfair in many states and a major factor contributing to disparities in education resources, opportunities and outcomes for the 50 million public school children across the United States.
This report evaluates states on three crucial measures of fair school funding to show the condition of the state’s school funding system:
- Funding Level measures per pupil state and local revenues, adjusted to account for regional cost differences. The ELC report finds that funding levels vary widely across states, from $8,569 per pupil in Arizona, to $27,588 per pupil in Vermont.
- Funding Distribution measures the allocation of funds to school districts relative to the concentration of student poverty. States are classified as “progressive,” “regressive” or “flat” under this measure. The report finds a wide span in funding distribution, with Nevada providing 31% less (regressive) and Alaska providing 72% more (progressive) per pupil funding to high-poverty districts.
- Funding Effort measures the level of investment in the K-12 public education system as a percentage of the state’s economic productivity (GDP). The report finds that the highest effort state (Vermont) makes nearly three times the effort of the lowest effort states (Arizona and North Carolina).
While the report gives North Carolina a “C” for being in the middle of the pack when it comes to the difference between the funding levels provided to low-poverty and high-poverty districts, the state receives an “F” grade for both its overall per pupil funding and funding effort. Indeed, the state badly trails South Carolina, which actually received an “A” for funding effort.
And, as is detailed here, the most recent effort from state lawmakers will do nothing to address the problem.
Click here to explore the report, which includes tables and charts like the following.