The changing distribution of educational opportunities: 1993–2012

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Over the past several decades, many states have pursued substantive changes to their state school finance systems. Some reforms have been stimulated by judicial pressure resulting from state constitutional challenges and others have been initiated by legislatures. But despite gains in school funding equity and adequacy made over the past few decades, in recent years we have witnessed a substantial retreat from equity and adequacy. This chapter builds on the national school funding fairness report annually published by the Education Law Center. We track school funding fairness (the relative targeting of funding to districts serving economically disadvantaged children) for all states from 1993 to 2012. This chapter explores in greater depth the consequences of school funding levels, distributions, and changes in specific classroom resources provided in schools. We find that states and districts applying more effort—spending a greater share of their fiscal capacity on schools—generally spend more on schools, and that these higher spending levels translate into higher staffing levels and lower class sizes as well as more competitive teacher wages.




Baker, B., Farrie, D., & Sciarra, D. G. (2016). The changing distribution of educational opportunities: 1993–2012. In The Dynamics of Opportunity in America: Evidence and Perspectives (pp. 97–136). Springer International Publishing.

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