The Search for Equity in School Finance

Results from Five States

by Stephen J. Carroll, Millicent Cox, William Lisowski


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Describes outcomes of school finance reform in California, Florida, Kansas, Michigan, and New Mexico. Spending for education rose impressively in these states, but reform did little to equalize the distributions of revenues or instructional expenditures. Local property taxes for education declined in all the states but Michigan and became significantly more equal among school districts. Reform weakened the link between districts' revenues and their communities' property tax bases and, in most cases, their income levels. Reform generally had little effect on the distribution of revenues among district types. Reform did little to equalize districts' spending outcomes and opportunities probably because of the simultaneous pursuit of diverse and often conflicting objectives, and the add-ons and adjustments that states made to their basic finance plans, usually with disequalizing effects.

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