Welcome to the Profit of Education website. Continuing the conversation begun in the book Profit of Education, we discuss the latest economic evidence on education reform.

How equal is spending across districts?

In some states, notably in California, statewide school funding is supposed to equalize spending across districts so that kids in low income districts aren’t disadvantaged. Does that actually happen?

Here’s a picture I created I from the data put together by Emanuel Vespa. The top picture shows spending across California school districts in small and medium size districts and the bottom picture is for large districts.

ca_spendingLook first at the bottom. There is a pretty wide spread of spending in large districts (defined as more than 15,000 students in the district), but it’s not related to the income level in the district. Somewhat over half of all California students are in these large districts.

The situation is different for the small and medium districts. There’s much more variability in spending–and it is linked to income. Higher income districts do spend more on each student than do lower income districts. And it’s just not the small number of districts with crazy high income.

Here’s another peek at the data, this time showing average spending according to district income.

ca_2Several lessons from the second picture:

  • Large districts spend a lot less per student than small and medium districts.
  • There’s not much income-linked variation in spending among large districts.
  • Spending per student does vary a lot among smaller districts. It’s high at the low end and very high at the high end.
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