That’s the grade Tennessee gets from the Education Law Center’s latest report on school funding in the United States. To be clear, Tennessee earned an F in both funding level and funding effort. We earned a C in distribution of the paltry sum our state dedicates to schools.
Here’s how Education Law Center defines those terms:
- Funding Level – the cost-adjusted, per-pupil revenue from state and local sources
- Funding Distribution – the extent to which additional funds are distributed to school districts with high levels of student poverty
- Funding Effort – the level of investment in K-12 public education as a percentage of state wealth (GDP) allocated to maintain and support the state school system
The report notes that Tennessee is 43rd in the nation in overall funding level and 47th in effort. The effort category is of particular interest because it indicates that Tennessee has significant room for improvement in terms of funding level. That is, there are untapped resources Tennessee is NOT using to fund schools.
Shorter: Funding schools is NOT a key policy priority in Tennessee.
Additional evidence for this can be found in graphics shared by Think Tennessee earlier this year:
Tennessee is (and has been) at or near the bottom in school funding and even in funding effort. That’s not changing. Instead, Governor Lee and his policy acolytes are diverting education dollars to voucher schemes and charter schools.
For more on education politics and policy in Tennessee, follow @TNEdReport