Funding Level by District

The overall funding level  (see Baker et al., 2018) of state and local revenue provided to school districts and compares each districts’ average per-pupil revenue with that of other districts. To recognize the variety of intrastate differences, each district’s revenue level will be adjusted to reflect differences in regional wages, poverty, economies of scale, and population density.

Our rationale for looking at the funding levels across the resource allocation spectrum would be focused on race + poverty.

There is widespread consensus of the failure of financial systems in most states to provide all children with the opportunity for educational success. As poverty represents one of the major risk factors for adverse childhood impacts related to physical and behavioral/mental health and developmental delays and is tied to structural differences in brain functioning, investing in evidence-informed policies proven to promote equal opportunity, healthy early childhood development, school achievement, and overall economic success is critical (World Health Organization, 2020). Considering the major role that poverty plays in adverse childhood experiences (Hughes & Tucker, 2018), and the long-term consequences related to physical, behavioral, developmental, and mental health that follow, investing in evidence-informed policies proven to promote equal opportunity, healthy early childhood development, school achievement, and overall economic success is critical. Compounding the challenges of extremely high levels of poverty, these students are increasingly concentrated in schools with other poor children. The percentage of U.S. students in high-poverty schools (poverty rates greater than 30%) doubled from 7% in 2007 to 16% in 2011.

Decades of research demonstrate that concentrated poverty is a significant barrier to educational progress. The poverty rate has dropped to 42 percent, but is still relatively high for Detroit children, compared with the state average of 20 percent (Kids Count in Michigan Data Book, 2018). Poverty has been linked to poor emotional and physical health, low educational achievement, and few prospects for future employment (U.S Department of Education, 2017). Additionally, Metro Detroit counties of Wayne, Oakland, and Macomb experienced 8 percent growth in poverty in the past decade (Michigan Department of Technology, Management, and Budget, 2015) and Detroit is 24 percent higher than the state average for people living in poverty (Michigan Department of Technology, Management, and Budget, 2015; Kids Count in Michigan, 2016; U.S. Census Bureau, 2017).

According to the U.S. Department of Education (2017), over 50 percent (6 in 10) children under the age of 18 in Detroit are living in poverty, and African American students tend to suffer most from the financial, educational, and social disparities that poverty elicits (Data Driven Detroit, 2011; U.S. Census Bureau, 2017; U.S. Department of Education, 2017; Kids Count in Michigan Data Book, 2018). Given such social disparities, are the differences in state and local funding levels across Michigan districts after accounting for selected student characteristics such as race/ethnicity?

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