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School Funding

Funding of U.S. public schools has long been a focus of contention, primarily because children living in high-poverty and high-minority neighborhoods so often attend schools that have relatively few resources. Decades of litigation document a clash between commitments to “local control” of schools, on one hand, and the provision of equal educational opportunity, regardless of where one lives, on the other. This entry examines sources of funding for U.S. public schools, disparities in resources, and legal challenges to the continuing situation.

Sources of Funding

Unlike most industrialized nations, the United States relies heavily on local property taxes to fund its public schools. These revenues, which account for about 45 percent of total school funding, create significant disparities among school districts because local property values vary so much. ...

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