School Funding Grossly Unfair in NY — Even Jersey is Better

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It's not exactly news that kids in poor school districts get screwed in New York state, but a new study quantifies exactly how.

A report from Rutgers University and the Education Law Center in New Jersey has found that, when it comes to equitably distributing money and other resources to rich and poor school districts, New Jersey comes in second in the nation. New York state, meanwhile, comes in 46th.

"New York spends more on education overall than most other states," Meredith Kolodner at the Daily News writes, "but researchers call its funding methods 'regressive.'"

"Poor children are only getting 82 percent of what the rich kids are getting" in New York state, Geri Palast of the Campaign for Fiscal Equity tells WNYC's Beth Fertig.

The report's data is drawn from 2007, before Palast's organization won a lawsuit forcing New York state to more fairly distribute money. But Fertig reports that little has changed since then "because budget cuts were made just as New York began adding more money to schools. . . . The extra $5.5 billion in aid that was promised over four years was frozen and then cut, dragging it out to a ten-year plan."

New Jersey came in only behind Utah, which the report says distributes money most fairly. As Kolodner notes, in most parts of the country, "wealthy districts rely on high property taxes to fund their schools — a luxury many poor districts do not have."

Newark, one of Jersey's least wealthy school districts, also recently benefited from a $100 million gift from Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg, motivated by profound generosity or a desire to counterbalance his portrayal in The Social Network (or both).

sthrasher@villagevoice.com

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