School Finance 101

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Bruce Baker’s blog School Finance 101 manages to hit the all-too-rare sweet spot between dense academic analysis and facile punditry. Baker, an associate professor at Rutgers University, brings a forceful, engaging style and matches it with hard numbers that provide just enough information.

To give you a taste of the tone and content of his blog, consider this opening paragraph from a recent post on funding equity:

I’ve heard it over and over again from reformy pundits. Funding equity? Been there done that. It doesn’t make a damn bit of difference. It’s all about teacher quality! (which of course has little or nothing to do with funding equity?). The bottom line is that equitable and adequate financing of schools is a NECESSARY UNDERLYING CONDITION FOR EVERYTHING ELSE!

What makes this post so interesting is not his opinion alone, which is by no means unique, but the barrage of data that follows. Baker takes the reader through a series of charts and tables demonstrating funding disparities in several states and how they play out in terms of some specific measures, such as class size.

If you find yourself frustrated by unsubstantiated claims made about school funding, School Finance 101 is a good place to learn and engage in discussion about these critical and controversial issues.

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