Southern Students Deserve Fair School Funding

Our imperative to rally Southerners for Fair School Funding is urgent: improving student access to high-quality education opportunities across the South, particularly for students of color, students experiencing poverty, and rural students has the potential to propel the region forward and create crucial generational change. Southern progress is national progress.

To achieve fairer school funding in the South,

we believe that state funding systems should:

Fund students adequately

Fund students adequately by ensuring that state investment is sufficient enough to cover the costs of providing a rigorous, high-quality education to all public school students that will enable them to succeed in school and thrive in life. State funding systems should be student-based, including an adequately funded base, or foundation amount, that is driven by the actual costs for states to achieve desired student outcomes. All districts should receive the same base per student.

Fund specific student needs and fund those needs adequately and fairly

Fund specific student needs and fund those needs adequately and fairly by allocating additional money, or “weights” for students who face unique barriers to learning, such as students living in poverty, students with disabilities, and students in rural communities. Generous weights will generate substantially more dollars for districts serving the most high-needs students. In addition, when appropriate, weights should be tiered, with ranges that reflect the diversity of needs of English Learners or students with disabilities. Lastly, these weights must not be mutually exclusive; a student who meets criteria for multiple weights should receive funding for all of them.

Fund to address the impact of concentrated poverty

Fund to address the impact of concentrated poverty by providing additional funding to districts and schools that serve a high percentage of students living in poverty. High-poverty districts must spread their limited resources across the diverse social, emotional, and academic needs of their students. State funding systems should adequately account for and fund this reality.

Fund districts and schools transparently

Fund districts and schools transparently through efficient state and local data systems that ensure districts spend dollars well and target additional dollars to students who need them the most. States should report this data to the public in a regular and timely manner and provide meaningful technical assistance to districts as needed, while giving districts flexibility to invest in strategies they know work for their students. States should also provide easy to understand explanations of how their funding systems work and these explanations should be in language accessible to all communities. There should also be ample opportunities for communities to weigh in on what is and is not working, and states should be responsive to this feedback.

Use public funds to fund public schools exclusively

Public funds should fund public schools. Taxpayer funds should be used to maintain and support public schools exclusively.

We know that more money matters for all students’ success, but it especially matters for students furthest from opportunities. A recent national study found that a modest increase (10%) in per-pupil spending each year across a student’s schooling experience boosted student academic achievement for all students, but led to larger boosts for students from low-income backgrounds than their more well-off peers.1 Low-income students experienced greater increases in their performance on state tests and high school graduation rates. What’s more, the research shows that more investment didn’t just lead to benefits inside the classroom–they also led to students experiencing better economic mobility as adults and earning higher incomes.