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Opinion: It’s time to modernize Alabama’s outdated school funding formula

While Alabama has made record investments and reforms over the past few years that have resulted in some student gains, the time has come to address the root cause of our opportunity gaps: Our state’s school funding policy.

For generations, Alabama has ranked nearly last in the nation for most educational outcomes. And still today, too many kids do not have access to the transformative education they deserve. Less than half of kids can read proficiently, and only 3 in 10 can do math on grade level, and these numbers are even more devastating for students of color and students from low-income communities. Students are graduating unprepared for college, career, and life, without a pathway to a good job and economic mobility.

We cannot continue to accept this reality. We want our children to receive an education that we can be proud of. It’s time to demand more.

That’s why today, A+ Education Partnership is launching Every Child Alabama, a statewide coalition of organizations, business leaders, educators, students, families, and community members that are coming together and bravely demanding more for students. We share a unifying belief that a transformative education for every child strengthens our communities, making them better places to live, work, and raise a family.

The first priority of Every Child Alabama is to modernize the way we fund Alabama schools. We are one of only six states still using a resource-based formula, which has not been updated in 30 years. Our current formula distributes money based on the number of students in a school and not the needs of those students, like living in poverty or having a disability. It does not provide enough money. It is not transparent. It is too rigid. It does not allow schools to adjust how they spend money to address their students’ needs.

Every child is different, and some children need more support to be successful. Alabama needs a student-weighted formula, which would fund districts based on the needs of the actual students in their schools. By investing in student needs, schools will finally begin to meet the mandate of preparing every child for a competitive, fast-changing world. Every student deserves to have a high-quality teacher, healthy meals, a safe building, summer and after-school opportunities, and a supportive learning environment. A student-weighted formula would provide greater opportunities for every Alabama child to lead a successful life.

Fixing education in Alabama feels like an insurmountable problem. But the great news is we have the solution to fix the foundation. School funding reform will lay the groundwork for sustainable change. The next step is simply having the courage to do so.

Join Every Child Alabama as we work to ensure every child has access to a world-class education so they can reach their full potential.

If you are interested in learning more about school funding reform, click here to register for Every Dollar Counts, a virtual learning series launching April 18, from 3 to 4 p.m.

ECA Coalition Members

  • Mark Dixon, President of A+ Education Partnership
  • Jason Meadows, Advocacy & Partnerships Director of A+ Education Partnership
  • Dr. Jeremiah Newell, CEO of Mobile Area Education Foundation
  • VOICES for Alabama’s Children
  • Dave Wells, President & CEO of Alabama Goodwill
  • John Wilson, Chief School Finance Officer of Baldwin County Board of Education
  • Tracye Strichik, Director of Alabama Expanded Learning Alliance (AELA)
  • Baldwin County Education Coalition, Inc.
  • Alabama Network of Child Advocacy Centers
  • Alabama Possible
  • Faith In Action Alabama
  • AG Gaston Business Institute
  • Carlos Aleman, CEO of the Hispanic and Immigrant Center of Alabama (HICA)
  • Emily Schultz, Executive Director of Alabama Families for Great Schools
  • Ann McKimmon Sikes, Executive Director of Montgomery Education Foundation
  • Robyn Hyden, Executive Director of Alabama Arise
  • T. Ellis, Director of EmpowerED Birmingham
  • Gordon Martin
  • New Life COGIC
  • Learning Little People
  • Education 4 Life, Inc.
  • Neonta Williams, Executive Director – Black Alabamians for Education
  • Samantha Williams, Executive Director of Birmingham Promise
  • Mariohn Michel, Executive Director of Breakthrough Birmingham
  • Tyler Barnett, Executive Director of New Schools for Alabama
  • Stevi Price
  • Lawrence L. Battiste IV
  • Teach for America Alabama

 

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