News Release - Disparities in States’ K-12 Resources Grew

For Immediate Release –

November 4, 2009

Media contact: Mark Marchand – (518) 443-5283 /

Disparities in States’ K-12 Resources Grew in Recent Years, While Education Spending Continued Long-Term Rise, Rockefeller Institute Report Finds

New Report Suggests Recession and Stimulus Funding May Widen Interstate Disparities in Revenues for
K-12 Education

Albany, N.Y. — While education spending by the states has risen strongly in the last two decades, disparities in K-12 resources widened after the 2001 recession, according to a new report issued today by the Rockefeller Institute of Government.

Inflation-adjusted per-pupil state spending at the primary and secondary levels rose from $7,911 in 1989 to $11,233 — or 42 percent — in 2007, fueled by growth in the federal, state and local revenues states use for education. The report also noted that the growth rate for state revenues slowed after the recessions of the early 1990s and 2001 but each time posted a strong recovery.

Variation in education revenues among the states increased after the 2001 recession, with states that normally spend more on education experiencing vigorous revenue growth, while those states that normally spend less experiencing far slower growth. These disparities will likely be exacerbated by the current economic downturn, study authors noted.

“In general, lower-spending states — which tend to have higher child poverty rates and thus higher levels of educational need — are devoting relatively fewer resources to education. In the current economic downturn, student need could worsen along with resource disparities. Thus, in tough economic times there is a growing mismatch between funding levels and student need,” the authors said in the report.

“In our federal system, there is no simple mechanism to remedy these interstate disparities. Each state decides for itself what resources to devote to education, considering its fiscal capacity and its choices about how much to rely on local funding,” they added.

For a full copy of the report, visit


About the Rockefeller Institute of Government

The Nelson A. Rockefeller Institute of Government, at the University at Albany, is the public policy research arm of the State University of New York. The Institute conducts fiscal and programmatic research on American state and local governments. Journalists can find useful information on the Newsroom page of the Web site,

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