Understand the consequences of underfunded K-12 students

Will Money Make A Difference?

Where Will New Money Go, And What Will It Do Differently?

This page in progress, thanks for your patience —

Does money make a difference? Most people would commit to saying, Yes, absolutely. But how much of a difference, and what is the value of return gained?

So the real main question is “on what do we invest the money for the most value gained”? (the really short answer nearly everyone agrees upon - quality, effective, well mentored, accountable teachers in every classroom).

Another big question—where will new money come from (assuming it is needed)? Well — that’s the legislature’s job. Every other year (in the odd-numbered years), the State House of Representatives and  Senate create and vote upon a biennium budget.

The answers to these questions will begin to solidify as the legislature evaluates and votes on legislation coming out of the Basic Education Finance Task Force.

The one question definitively answered in the affirmative by all sides of the political aisle, is “Does not enough funding lead to enduring and pervasive consequences?” - yes.

Funding Washington Schools

(Auto-translate to other languages)

Another Approach Under Way to an Answer

The School Finance Redesign Project: A Synthesis of Project Work to Date

Paul Hill, January 2008; Download Full Report (PDF: 651 K); Center on Reinventing Public Education, University of Washington

Education still claims the lion’s share of state and local government expenditures, but rising costs and competition with other sectors (e.g., public safety, health care) have put public education in a squeeze. Though there are moral and legal arguments for spending whatever it takes to give our children a good education, the reality is that spending will always be finite; moreover, as in other parts of the public sector, there will always be more ideas about how to spend money than there is money available.

In the past decade, controversies about public spending on education have grown as states adopted performance standards pledging that every child will learn enough to become an independent productive citizen and as No Child Left Behind has put teeth into those expectations. Educators say that meeting higher standards requires more money. Some policymakers claim that past spending increases were large enough to pay for higher performance if funds were used productively. While litigants have asked courts to determine what amount of spending is adequate to allow schools to meet standards and then to mandate commensurate spending increases, defendants in “adequacy” lawsuits have argued that greater expenditures alone will not lead to higher school performance. Critics of demands for more money point to cases in New Jersey, Arkansas, and Kansas City where major spending increases were misspent, with little or no impact on student learning. Though no one seriously argues that more spending could never lead to school improvement, there is reason to fear that without changes in the way funds are spent, Americans could end up with a more expensive, but not necessarily more effective or equitable, system of public education.

In this environment, elected officials, especially governors and state legislators, have searched for answers to two questions: How much money will it take for all students to meet standards and how should the money be spent? The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation asked the Center on Reinventing Public Education (CRPE) to create a School Finance Redesign Project (SFRP) to help elected officials better understand how the finance system now works and to identify their options in allocating resources to support K-12 education. The project, initiated in 2002 and supported with nearly $6 million in Gates Foundation funds, has now grown to include more than 30 separate projects. This Interim Report explains the questions we posed, the research strategies we employed, and the ways in which we will present the results. It also previews some of our early findings.