North Carolina's education system is one of the worst-funded in America, a report released this week finds — and that's just where the problems begin.
Besides being one of the most underfunded systems in the country, North Carolina's school funding formula is one of the most complex and least effective at aiding needy students, says a new study from the NC Justice Center's Education & Law Project.
"To ensure that all students have the chance to receive a high-quality education, North Carolina needs an increase in overall funding," said Matthew Ellinwood, the policy analyst who authored the report. "Also, the state should change its needlessly-complex funding system, which diminishes opportunity for high-poverty urban and rural districts as well as special needs children."
The report, "North Carolina's Public School Funding System: Underfunded, Unclear, and Unfair,"is available online at www.ncjustice.org.
With a looming state budget shortfall, North Carolina's public school system faces further cuts to an already bare-bones funding scheme.
According to the most recent U.S. Census data, North Carolina ranks 45th in the nation in per-pupil spending and 43rd in the nation in per-pupil expenditure as a share of personal income. Education Week ranked North Carolina 46th in terms of funding adequacy and equity, giving it a D+, the lowest grade any state received.
"Adequate funding is a prerequisite to most education reforms that can improve the achievement of all of North Carolina's students and prepare them for success in life after school," said Ellinwood. "North Carolina can do better."
And when the Education Law Center rated state public school funding based on four factors: funding level, funding distribution, education spending compared to state per-capita Gross Domestic Product, and the number of school-age children attending the state's public schools. North Carolina was one of only four states to receive below-average ratings on all four indicators.
Currently, the nature of North Carolina's funding system also leads to unfair results, particularly for high-poverty urban and rural districts, districts with large numbers of at-risk students, and districts with large proportions of special-education students. North Carolina must adopt a more transparent, sensible and fair system, Ellinwood said.
To read the full study by the NC Justice Center's Education & Law Project, click here.