Policy Perspectives Logo

The Journal of the Trachtenberg School of Public Policy and Public Administration at The George Washington University


The substantial reliance on local property tax revenues to finance school systems has led to significant funding disparities between property-rich and property-poor school districts. The recognition of these disparities has spawned decades of litigation in states whose constitutions guarantee a high-quality education. Legislators and judges are often asked to reconcile very different definitions of equity and adequacy, which are the concepts that underpin a high-quality, state-provided education, and are often confounded by attempts to achieve equity and adequacy on a state-wide basis, given the differences in property tax revenues. This article describes the complexities inherent in the concepts of equity and adequacy and examines a long-running attempt to reform New York's school financing methods to ensure that all school districts in the state have an equitable and adequate level of resources.

Full Text