Mission: To contribute concrete data and evidence to ongoing public debates around education spending and school finance reform.
Background: According to the Century Foundation study Closing America's Education Funding Gaps, the United States is underfunding its K-12 public schools by nearly $150 billion annually, robbing more than 30 million school children of the resources they need to succeed in the classroom. The study also shows that school districts with high concentrations of Latinx and Black students are much more likely to be underfunded than majority-white districts and face much wider funding gaps. The study is based on a comprehensive national cost model developed by leading school finance expert Bruce Baker that estimates the investment needed in every school district in the country — more than 13,000 in total — to bring students up to national average outcomes. Building on Baker's model, the Century Foundation has visualized its findings in an interactive map that allows users to identify funding gaps, if any, for a particular district or state.
Outstanding Web Features: The map includes estimates for aggregate and per-pupil funding gaps, as well as two estimates for what it would cost to close a gap within a year and by using a phased-in, scaled-up approach over five years. The aggregate funding gaps provide the overall scope of the investment needed in each jurisdiction; the per-pupil funding gaps allow comparisons across districts and states, irrespective of population size. The model also includes two different estimates for what it would cost to close the gap, the first representing the cost to states and districts if they moved rapidly to close a gap within a year. The second represents localities' costs if they were to scale up and phase in spending over five years to close a gap. The report itself is broken into several sections, including key findings; an appendix detailing data sources and methodology; and a calculation of five-year phase-in gaps (2021-25).