Colorado gets ‘F’ for effort in school fairness

We’ve all heard the adage about the “C” student — “Well, at least she tried. “A” for effort.”

When it comes to fixing unfairness in education, Colorado can’t boast even having tried. In fact, as a state, we’ve flunked at trying, according to a national report card on school funding fairness from the Education Law Center.

What does this “F” for effort actually mean? The ratio between how much money the state brings in and how much money it spends on education in high-poverty school districts is out of whack.

The report card addresses how much states spend on education in poorer districts vs. wealthier districts. Schools that spend more where there is greater poverty are considered “progressive” and more fair. Schools that spend more on richer districts are, well, regressive and less fair.

The idea of the report is that all students – regardless of the region they’re from – deserve a fair chance at a quality education. The moral: Poverty should not be a deterrent to success.

Colorado did pass – albeit with perfect mediocrity as our greatest triumph – earning a “C” for fairness, because Colorado spends the exact same amount in low-poverty and high-poverty districts, giving wealthier districts with higher levels of local funding an unfair advantage.

“The four most progressive states — South Dakota, Delaware, Minnesota, and New Jersey — provide their highest-poverty districts, on average, with between 30% and 38% more funding per student than their lowest-poverty districts,” the report reads.

Nationwide, the trend toward progressive funding structures peaked in 2008 and declined by 2012 – the last year the study takes into account.

Consistently, through those years, Colorado has flunked in effort.

15 other states also failed in trying. Nevada lurks at the bottom of the “effort” list.

You can read the study for yourself here.

Photo credit: Amboo who?, Creative Commons, Flickr.  


  1. there is a whole lot of truth to that…As a parent who is going through this whole thing again with my grandson, I see a whopping disparity between our rural school and the Denver schools…for the past years we have seen a decline in revenues to our area, but little or no decline in revenues on the Eastern Slope…I follow the politics in our State House, and I can see where and who to place blame on the failure to support our public schools…the Republican Party in Colorado is the primary reason we have seen a decline in our educational system in our area…we have republican controlled School Board who are more concerned with gender bathrooms, than how to keep good teachers and to recruit teachers….there is the problem of Charter Schools which drain public money from the rest of us…Privatizing of our educational system is a very bad idea….we would then see some guy like Dr. Chaps having control over what is taught in schools….

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