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NASBE’s State Education Standard Gets to the Core of School Finance and Ways State Policymakers Can Lead

For Immediate Release: September 19, 2018
Contact: Renee Rybak Lang, 703-740-4841

NASBE’s State Education Standard Gets to the Core of School Finance and Ways State Policymakers Can Lead

Alexandria, VA – The new issue of NASBE’s journal, The State Education Standard, focuses on a topic that occupies more space on state board of education agendas than any other: school finance. Most state boards do not directly make funding decisions in their states. But nonetheless, they review budget requests and appropriations and provide guidance to districts on how they report spending. As authors in the Standard point out, there are opportunities for state boards to exercise more leadership in ensuring that school spending is adequate to serve the needs of all students.

Michael Rebell of the Center for Educational Equity and Teachers College starts the issue with a look at the role the state supreme courts have played in the struggle for adequate and equitable funding in education. Plaintiffs arguing for equity, he explains, have gotten mixed results over the last several decades, but those arguing for adequacy have—since the advent of high-quality learning standards—enjoyed more success. In the NASBE interview, Jim Porter and Jim McNiece of the Kansas State Board of Education discuss how this nationwide dynamic played out in their state and detail the board’s role in advocating for students during the many years in which the Kansas State Supreme Court and legislature have struggled over school funding.

Georgetown University’s Marguerite Roza urges state boards to also look at the spending side of the equation. While most school spending decisions rest with local school boards or district officials, most states are not doing a good job of ensuring that local officials have the training they need to spend wisely and equitably, Roza argues. Local capacity for financial leadership became more urgent with a new provision in the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) that gives state leaders—and parents—access to school-level spending data. Education officials will thus need to be prepared for questions such transparency is bound to generate, says The Education Trust’s Ary Amerikaner. It’s also an opportunity for state leaders to assess how well education dollars are spent and where they go, she writes.

Karen Hawley Miles and Nicole Katz of Education Resource Strategies address the timely topic of teacher salaries. They detail the uneven compensation landscape from state to state, and they urge state boards to ask tough questions about how teachers are paid within the larger context of resource equity.

The Ounce of Prevention Fund’s Margie Wallen and Judy Reidt-Parker press state boards to take the lead on removing obstacles to blending the diverse funding streams that feed pre-K programming in their states.

Lastly, EdBuild’s Rebecca Sibilia explores the benefits of student-driven funding using California’s Local Control Funding Formula. In her view, the Local Control and Accountability Plan that California has put in place “brings accountability to the next level by empowering the state board to consider and evaluate alignment between funding and planned priorities and programs.”

Read the full September 2018 issue of The State Education Standard. Individual articles can be downloaded here.

NASBE is the only national organization giving voice and adding value to the nation’s state boards of education. A nonprofit organization founded in 1958, NASBE works to strengthen state leadership in educational policymaking, promote excellence in the education of all students, advocate equality of access to educational opportunity, and ensure continued citizen support for public education. Learn more at


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