Pulling Back the Curtain: Intra-District School Spending Inequality and Its Correlates
54 Pages Posted: 31 Jul 2017
Date Written: July 27, 2017
Despite concerns about funding inequities between schools within districts, data constraints have limited large-scale analyses of intra-district inequality in the United States. We use new school-level finance data to calculate measures of vertical inequality for nearly all U.S. districts. Using independent high-quality data sources, we validate the school-level data and the resulting inequality measures. We find that poor and minority students on average receive 1 to 2 percent more resources than nonpoor and white students in the same district; however, between 29 to 44 percent of districts under-allocate resources to disadvantaged students. Districts that under-allocate resources to poor students relative to nonpoor students tend to be poorer and have less income segregation. Districts that under-allocate resources to minority students relative to white students tend to have smaller racial income gaps, less racial segregation, and (when it comes to under-allocation to black students) larger white student populations.
Keywords: School finance, distribution of school finance, race and class inequality
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