Philadelphia Graph of the Day


I just can’t drop the Philly issue, because of the complete absurdity of the reformy rhetoric about Philly schools and persistent willful ignorance regarding the role of equitable and adequate funding for Philly schools and the Commonwealth’s failure to provide any reasonable level of support.

For what it’s worth – and I’ve spent a great deal of time critiquing this and similar studies – the Commonwealth in the mid-2000s took on the task of determining the “costs” per pupil of what Pennsylvania school districts needed to get the job done. This cost analysis was then used to guide development of a new formula intended to drive appropriate levels of state aid to districts facing substantive gaps between current spending (2006-07) at the time, and cost estimates developed under state supervision, by independent consultants.

 [critique of these & related methods can be found here]

At the time, state officials found that districts including Philadelphia, Allentown and Reading faced funding (relative to cost) gaps between $4,000 and $6,000+ per pupil.  So, in rather bold style, they adopted a new school finance formula with the intent to phase districts toward their adequacy targets.  Then the economy tanked, and a new era of political attacks on state school finance formulas followed (as much a Cuomo/NY issue as a Corbett one!).

So, where are Pennsylvania school districts now, with 2013-14 (July estimates) funding (holding local effort constant), when compared to the 2006-07 funding gaps? That is, have Pennsylvania districts come any closer in the (7) following years to the targets that were estimated for them before it all came crumbling down?

Simple answer? No!

Philly Adequacy GapThat is, Philly remains more than $4,000 per pupil (by this quick&dirty analysis) below the funding target that was estimated for it nearly a decade ago. [BEF = Basic Education Funding]

BEF 2013-14: http://www.portal.state.pa.us/portal/server.pt/community/education_budget/8699/SAEBG/539259

Published by schoolfinance101

Bruce Baker is an Professor in the Graduate School of Education at Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey. From 1997 to 2008 he was a professor at the University of Kansas in Lawrence, KS. He is lead author with Preston Green (Penn State University) and Craig Richards (Teachers College, Columbia University) of Financing Education Systems, a graduate level textbook on school finance policy published by Merrill/Prentice-Hall. Professor Baker has written a multitude of peer reviewed research articles on state school finance policy, teacher labor markets, school leadership labor markets and higher education finance and policy. His recent work has focused on measuring cost variations associated with schooling contexts and student population characteristics, including ways to better design state school finance policies and local district allocation formulas (including Weighted Student Funding) for better meeting the needs of students. Baker, along with Preston Green of Penn State University are co-authors of the chapter on Conceptions of Equity in the recently released Handbook of Research Education Finance and Policy, and co-authors of the chapter on the Politics of Education Finance in the Handbook of Education Politics and Policy and co-authors of the chapter on School Finance in the Handbook of Education Policy of the American Educational Research Association. Professor Baker has also consulted for state legislatures, boards of education and other organizations on education policy and school finance issues and has testified in state school finance litigation in Kansas, Missouri and Arizona. He is a member of the Think Tank Review Panel, a group of academic researchers who conduct technical reviews of publicly released think tank reports on education policy issues.

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