Not Much of a Silver Lining...
As the new school year gets underway, school districts in 26 states will have less funding to work with this year. According to an analysis by the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, 26 states have cut per-pupil education spending from last year's levels, making it more difficult for already cash-strapped districts across the country to provide the resources and opportunities their students deserve.
According the CBPP's analysis, 35 states are still spending less than they did pre-recession. In 17 states, per-student funding is 10 percent or more below pre-recession levels. Arizona, Alabama and Oklahoma are in particularly dire straights with funding more than 20 percent below pre-recession levels.
Those states that are managing to increase their education spending are doing so modestly. The increases aren't nearly enough to make up for the severe cuts states have made over the past several years.
As CBPP explains, when the recession hit, many states relied on federal aid money to keep education funding afloat. When the federal aid ended last year, it precipitated the worst round of cuts to state education budgets. 34 states cut their education budgets last year. Compared to that, the 26 states still cutting their funding this year is an improvement. But that's not much of a silver lining given that 26 states still represents over half the country.
These continued cuts to education spending are more damaging for schools in low-income areas. On average, school districts get around 44 percent of their funding from states. As the report explains:
"Since states typically distribute general education aid through formulas that target additional funds to school districts with large shares of low-income and other high-need children, reductions in formula funding may result in particularly deep cuts in general state aid for districts with high concentrations of low-income students."
You can read the full report–and find out how your state measures up–here.