Thursday, June 21, 2018

Florida rates poorly in per-student funding, in new Education Week report

Critics of Florida's public education funding system got another piece of ammunition Wednesday, as Education Week rated the state's school spending an F alongside 25 other states.

The publication, which annually issues a well regarded national rating of state education systems, noted that Florida does exceedingly well in finance equity, or the way it allocates across districts.

Florida's A- grade on that metric was the best of all states.

But Its F in spending was among the worst, tracking with past reports from Education Week. Compounding the issue, Florida also ranked lowest of all states in another key area that has gotten plenty of attention lately, its per-student funding.

"In seven states and the District of Columbia, 100 percent of students are in districts where spending reaches or exceeds the national benchmark," Education Week wrote. "In 15 states, by contrast, less than 10 percent of students attend school in districts meeting that mark, including Florida where only 0.1 percent of students are in such districts (the lowest in the nation)."

Florida's debate over per-student funding has been long running, with legislative leaders and Gov. Rick Scott touting efforts to bring the amount to the highest in state history. Critics have observed that the amount has not kept up with inflation, and further the amount actually available for general operations has not met increasing costs of doing business.

Florida also is in the middle of a funding lawsuit that has been in play for nine years. A group of parents has argued the state has failed to meet its constitutional obligations for financing a highly public effective education system.

Two courts so far have ruled that the constitutional language is vague and subjective, making it impossible to judge. The issue is now before the state Supreme Court.

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