First Among Un-equals

Posted on April 21, 2005
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After nearly two decades of tinkering with an equalized student funding system, everybody knows some Arizona districts get more than others. A new analysis from the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES) now shows just how much more.

In fiscal year 2002, median per student revenue from local, state, and federal sources for Arizona school districts was $8,173. Yet the state ranks third nationally for a 219 percent disparity between the highest and lowest revenue districts, $18,035 compared to $5,659.

On the other side of the ledger, Arizona's median per-pupil expenditure (which excludes almost $1,400 in capital, debt interest, and other non-instructional expenditures) was $6,197. Once again, Arizona ranks third nationally for a 186 percent disparity between the state's lowest and highest expenditure districts, $4,481 compared to $12,828.

"Equalizing" districts' finances has failed. It's time to equalize children's opportunities instead with a statewide educational grant system.

To see how much funding your public school district received-and how it was spent-in fiscal year 2003, visit our interactive Student Funding Look-Up database, developed in partnership with the Friedman Foundation.

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