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A Think Twice Review of:

Student-Centered State Funding: A How-to Guide for State Policymakers

Think Twice - Jan 09, 2018

Publisher/Think Tank - Foundation for Excellence in Education (ExcelinEd)

Author(s) - Bruce D. Baker, Rutgers University

A report from Jeb Bush’s Foundation for Excellence in Education (ExcelinEd) attempted to illustrate and explain how state policymakers could design fairer and more transparent state funding systems where monies ‘follow the child’ through parental choice. The school finance systems promoted in the report allow for all state and local tax dollars to flow freely to local district, charter, or private and religious schools. The central premise of the report is: “that adopting ‘student-centered’ funding to enable parental choice of schools necessarily leads to a fairer and more transparent system for financing children’s schooling.”

Reviewer(s) - Bruce D. Baker, Rutgers University

A review finds that the report lacks any clear understanding of the true costs of providing equal educational opportunities and provides too few specifics to inform policy design. Reviewer Bruce D. Baker finds the arguments offered in the report to be “entirely unsubstantiated and unlikely to stand up to even the most cursory debate within state legislative subcommittees.” Specifically, he finds three major faults in the report: (a) it advances a false dichotomy between funding the child and the institutions (e.g., public school districts) serving children; (b) it is based on overly simplistic, frequently misrepresented, and often outright incorrect versions of the status quo, including overly broad mischaracterizations of how schools are currently financed; and (c) the recommendations advanced within the report are purely speculative and unsubstantiated.