In Educational Inequality and School Finance, Bruce D. Baker offers a comprehensive examination of how US public schools receive and spend money. Drawing on extensive longitudinal data and numerous studies of states and districts, he provides a vivid and dismaying portrait of the stagnation of state investment in public education and the continuing challenges of achieving equity and adequacy in school funding.
Baker explores school finance, the school and classroom resources derived from school funding, and how and why those resources matter. He provides a critical examination of popular assumptions that undergird the policy discourse around school funding—notably, that money doesn’t matter and that we are spending more and getting less—and shows how these misunderstandings contribute to our reluctance to increase investment in education at a time when the demands on our educational system are rising.
Through an introduction to the concepts of adequacy, equity, productivity, and efficiency, Baker shows how these can be used to evaluate policy reforms. He argues that we know a great deal about the role and importance of money in schools, the mechanisms through which money matters for student outcomes, and the trade-offs involved, and he presents a framework for designing and financing an equitable and adequate public education system, with balanced and stable sources of revenue.
Educational Inequality and School Finance takes an issue all too often relegated to technical experts and makes it accessible for broader public empowerment and engagement.
Table of Contents
1. Why Money Matters
2. School Finance 101
3. Money Myths and Misdirections
4. How Schools Use Money
5. School Finance Reforms and Results
6. State Funding Formulas and District Disparities
7. The Erosion of Equity and Adequacy
8. Evaluating Education Innovations
9. Applying High-Quality Cost Analysis to School Finance Policy
10. Equitable, Adequate, and Sustainable School Funding
Notes Acknowledgments About the Author Index
Bruce D. Baker is a professor in the Department of Educational Theory, Policy and Administration at Rutgers Graduate School of Education in New Brunswick, New Jersey. He previously served on the faculty at the University of Kansas from 1997 through 2008. In addition to publishing numerous articles, chapters, and a textbook on school finance, he has testified on school funding inequities and inadequacies in state and federal courts. He has also worked with state legislatures and boards of education in Kansas, Texas, Missouri, and Maryland to inform and reform various aspects of state school finance systems. He blogs at Schoolfinance101.wordpress.com and can be found on Twitter @schlfinance101.