The Education Trust, a national nonprofit that works to close the gaps in opportunity and achievement for all students, pre-K through college, is turning the spotlight on the funding shortcomings of state and local governments. 

Their new report titled,” Equal Is Not Good Enough,” and a companion interactive data tool, reveals how districts with the most students of color, students from low-income backgrounds, and English learners are still getting the short end of the stick.  

The report uses data from the U.S. Census Bureau’s school district finance survey and newly collected data on spending in schools. 

The data shows what parents, teachers, and community members already know: students living in poverty or whose first language is not English continue to be deprived of equal funding — ultimately impacting their overall student experience. 

“This analysis confirms what we already know: Students of color and students from low-income backgrounds continue to be short-changed,” said Denise Forte, CEO of Education Trust. “We shouldn’t be surprised that students who attend underfunded schools don’t perform as well as their peers on national and state assessments.”

The colorful interactive data tool presents a map of all 50 states, each categorized according to how high-need districts — meaning areas with the largest number of students from low-income backgrounds, students of color, and English learners — are funded. 

States in olive green represent the highest-need districts that receive at least 40% more state and local funds than the lowest-need districts. Neon green represents the highest-need districts receiving between 10% and 40% more than the lowest-need districts. Blue states reflect the highest-need districts receiving between 10% and 40% more than the lowest-need districts, and red states are those that deprive the highest-need districts — giving them at least 10% less state and local funding than the lowest-need districts.

The appropriate state and local funding given to districts directly impacts their ability to provide extended learning time, targeted intensive learning, and establish strong relationships with their teachers

Part of the data visualization shows how each state’s color changes depending on which demographic you’re looking at. Some states fall short of providing equitable funding to one group, forcing their state to show up as red, while in another category, they provide the same amount of revenue, tipping the states’ scale to blue.

For example, in Texas, districts with the most students from low-income backgrounds, students of color, and English learners receive less local and state revenue than districts serving the least of each of those populations.

Although Texas provides less funding to districts with the highest needs – putting them in a red category across the board – states like Missouri, for example, fluctuate in funding to high-need districts, in turn 

In Missouri, districts with the most English learners receive 13% more state and local revenue, but high-poverty districts receive 8% less state and local venue. 

“Money matters, and how much a school has affects student outcomes,“ Ivy Morgan, director of P-12 data and analytics at Ed Trust said. “Yet, school districts and schools that serve large populations of students from low-income backgrounds, students of color, and English learners continue to receive less funding.” 

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