Education Funding Should Promote Equity, Performance & Innovation

Kansas governor Brownback is proposing a new school funding formula that would let counties raise their local property taxes rates to spend more on schools.  He’s right that school funding needs an overhaul, but he’s missing all of the key ingredients:
1. Education funding should be weighted for the risk factors that kids bring to school.  Weighted student funding creates an incentive for schools to serve challenging students. It allows high-challenge schools to attract great teachers and pay them more.
2. Education funding should be portable. Fractional and portable funding follows students to the best option available. Students (and families) can blend and customize their education.
3. Education funding should be performance-based.  Funding should create incentives for attendance and completion (not a first month count that encourages push-outs).  A small portion should be withheld to reward high levels of achievement.
Digital Learning Now! provides sound guidance in this area:

“Given fiscal challenges faced by governments across the country, states need to be innovative to meet the challenge of providing access to digital content. To build a quality digital learning environment, states will have to spend smarter – not necessarily more. Geographically unbounded digital learning provides incentive for states to develop an equalized and weighted funding formula that better matches resources with individual student needs regardless of zip code.”

The Center for Reinventing Public Education is another great resource on this subject. On school budgeting, Public Impact launched a project to show a variety of ways that schools can leverage teacher talent.

Tom Vander Ark

Tom Vander Ark is the CEO of Getting Smart. He has written or co-authored more than 50 books and papers including Getting Smart, Smart Cities, Smart Parents, Better Together, The Power of Place and Difference Making. He served as a public school superintendent and the first Executive Director of Education for the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.

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