Forum Extra -- Toward school equity

Arthur Boyd

September 21, 1990|By Arthur Boyd

The KNOTTIEST problem in education reform is funding. Some funds come from federal sources, but most come from the state and local jurisdictions. Some of the state funds are distributed without regard to wealth; others take need to into account, while others disproportionately help the wealthier counties.

APEX, one of the major state funding mechanisms, was expected to help narrow the disparity in education spending in Maryland, but it hasn't. The disparities are growing. In 1988-89, the highest-spending district in the state (Montgomery) spent $6,629 on each student, while the lowest-spending jurisdiction (Caroline) spent $4,209. The results of inequitable funding should be no surprise. Those jurisdictions with lowest spending per pupil often have the highest dropout rates and lowest test scores.

The state Board of Education's budget, now in the governor's hands, begins to address this disparity with targeted aid to the seven poorest counties and Baltimore city. Ultimately, the bulk of education funding must be folded into an overall funding formula that is adequate and equitable:a comprehensicve formula that assures all children in Maryland have an equal chance for a quality education regardless of where they happen to live.

We hope community leaders from across the state will join in trying to find a solution to the education funding problem. The opportunity to do so will come tomorrow at a conference at Dundalk Community College sponsored by our organization.

The writer is executive director of the Metropolitan Education coalition, a statewide coalition of people and organizations intereted in improving education.

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