South Carolina Governor Mark Sanford thinks he's found the solution to the state's school funding disparities. The Palmetto State's current model, he says, "disadvantages rural South Carolina." But a system "where you were funding kids and you put the money in the kid ... would lead to complete portability ... and equity." In other words, Sanford wants to delegate responsibility for education funding to the state (instead of to school districts) and then distribute the dollars based on the educational needs of individual students, not the tax base of the district in which they reside. As students change schools, their funding follows them. This is called "weighted student funding (WSF)," various forms of which exist in a few cities-including Cincinnati and San Francisco. But to date, no entire state has implemented it. That's a bit surprising, because WSF holds advantages for both liberals and conservatives. It's a fair way to solve funding inequities between districts, and by allowing money to follow individual students, it also opens the door to more school choice. In late June, look for a new Fordham report on weighted student funding and how it can work for states such as South Carolina. Governor Sanford, you're at the top of our mailing list!
"How Sanford's vision of 'choice' can fit with tax reform, school progress," by Cindi Ross Scoppe, The State, May 16, 2006