The Tab: How Connecticut Can Fix Its Dysfunctional Education Spending System to Reward Success, Incentivize Choice and Boost Student Achievement

Bryan C. Hassel and Daniela Doyle
Public Impact 

In The Tab, ConnCAN (a well-connected Connecticut education advocacy group) and Public Impact (a crackerjack education research organization) make the case for Connecticut’s move to a school funding system that:

  • Allows money to follow children based on their needs to the schools they attend;
  • Shines a bright light of information on the flow of funds; and
  • Removes barriers to creating great schools.

The Tab builds on the school finance work of organizations like the Center on Reinventing Public Education, the Annenberg Institute for School Reform, and the Fordham Foundation. It actually applies concepts like weighted student funding, empowered school leadership, and performance-based results into a working school reform model for Connecticut. The report goes deep – getting into the thorny issues of setting weights (for things like poverty, limited English proficiency, district size, etc.) and modeling out the costs of the new system over time.

The authors readily admit that their model would create winners and losers. They write, “the reforms have costs: financial, but more significantly political, since some districts and schools will lose money to make real change possible.” With these costs in mind, why do it? Because Connecticut simply can’t continue to afford the social costs of staggering achievement gaps that plague the state despite spending $13,000 per student (fifth highest in America).

Reformers and policy makers in Connecticut are coming to the realization that their state has to get beyond issues of equity and adequacy (which still embroil Ohio) and focus on creating a model of school funding that will “connect money with achievement and inputs with outputs.” This is a very different approach to Ohio’s evidence-based model of school funding and one worth checking out. See here.