October 12, 2010
Statement by Randi Weingarten, President, American Federation of Teachers, On Report on Fairness in School Funding
A new report, “Is School Funding Fair? A National Report Card,” by the Education Law Center with support from the Ford Foundation grades the states on the fairness of their school funding systems.
WASHINGTON—This report is disheartening evidence of how we are short-changing our most vulnerable students. To ensure that disadvantaged students reach their potential in life, school and career, states must provide school districts with the proper amount of funding to level the playing field. It is unacceptable that just seven states were given an A or B on their funding distribution to schools with high poverty concentration.
Our nation needs to set priorities for students living in poverty, to help them overcome economic challenges and become productive citizens. This starts with a commitment to early childhood education so all kids enter kindergarten knowing their numbers, letters and colors, and a resolve to provide wraparound services at schools so disadvantaged children and their families receive academic, nutritional, healthcare and other programs and services that they need.
Just a month ago, the U.S. Census Bureau reported that American poverty levels are the highest since the federal government began keeping track more than 50 years ago. Today, one in five American children is living in poverty. Now, more than ever, it is imperative that disadvantaged children not be left behind by inadequate support for their schools. With recession-driven budget cuts threatening much of the good work and progress highlighted in the report, we all must do our part to ensure that schools have the resources they need to cope with the effects of rising poverty.
The AFT will continue to work at the national, state and local levels to urge school funding systems that provide equality of educational opportunity, backed by the resources required to overcome the barriers to success that poverty creates for too many students.
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The AFT represents 1.5 million pre-K through 12th-grade teachers; paraprofessionals and other school-related personnel; higher education faculty and professional staff; federal, state and local government employees; nurses and healthcare workers; and early childhood educators.