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Why is it so hard to help central city schools?

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Author Info

  • William Duncombe

    (Center for Policy Research, The Maxwell School, Syracuse University, Syracuse, New York)

  • John Yinger

    (Center for Policy Research, The Maxwell School, Syracuse University, Syracuse, New York)

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    Abstract

    Many states have implemented educational grant systems designed to provide more aid to school districts that are, by some standard, in greater need. Nevertheless, many if not most central city school systems continue to produce poor educational outcomes, as measured, for example, by test scores and dropout rates. Using data from New York State, this article asks why existing aid formulas fail to provide the assistance that central city school districts need to bring their educational outcomes up to reasonable standards. Two principal explanations are explored: the failure of existing aid programs to recognize the high cost of providing education in central cities and the possibility that aid simply makes central cities less efficient without raising educational outcomes. The article presents aid programs that account for costs, but shows that these revised programs will do little to help central cities without at least one politically unpopular provision, namely a large state budget or a high required local property tax rate. The article also estimates the extent to which increased aid to central cities leads to their less efficient operation, thereby undermining the objective of improved educational outcomes for central city students. The article concludes by listing the steps that a state can take to help central city schools and by discussing the yet unresolved problems that arise in helping these districts.

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    Bibliographic Info

    Article provided by John Wiley & Sons, Ltd. in its journal Journal of Policy Analysis and Management.

    Volume (Year): 16 (1997)
    Issue (Month): 1 ()
    Pages: 85-113

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    Handle: RePEc:wly:jpamgt:v:16:y:1997:i:1:p:85-113

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    Web page: http://www3.interscience.wiley.com/journal/34787/home

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    Please report citation or reference errors to , or , if you are the registered author of the cited work, log in to your RePEc Author Service profile, click on "citations" and make appropriate adjustments.:
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    1. Ratcliffe, Kerri & Riddle, Bruce & Yinger, John, 1990. "The fiscal condition of school districts in Nebraska: Is small beautiful?," Economics of Education Review, Elsevier, Elsevier, vol. 9(1), pages 81-99, March.
    2. Reschovsky, Andrew, 1994. "Fiscal Equalization and School Finance," National Tax Journal, National Tax Association, vol. 47(1), pages 185-97, March.
    3. Downes, Thomas A. & Pogue, Thomas F., 1994. "Adjusting School Aid Formulas for the Higher Cost of Educating Disadvantaged Students," National Tax Journal, National Tax Association, vol. 47(1), pages 89-110, March.
    4. Fare, Rolf & Knox Lovell, C. A., 1978. "Measuring the technical efficiency of production," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, Elsevier, vol. 19(1), pages 150-162, October.
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    Cited by:
    1. Robert Inman, 2005. "Financing Cities," NBER Working Papers 11203, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    2. Irwin Garfinkel & Lee Rainwater & Timothy M. Smeeding, 2006. "A re-examination of welfare states and inequality in rich nations: How in-kind transfers and indirect taxes change the story," Journal of Policy Analysis and Management, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., vol. 25(4), pages 897-919.
    3. Kathryn Wilson & Kristina Lambright & Timothy M. Smeeding, 2004. "School Finance, Equivalent Educational Expenditure, and Income Distribution: Equal Dollars or Equal Chances for Success?," Center for Policy Research Working Papers, Center for Policy Research, Maxwell School, Syracuse University 62, Center for Policy Research, Maxwell School, Syracuse University.
    4. Marlow, Michael L., 1999. "Spending, school structure, and public education quality. Evidence from California," Economics of Education Review, Elsevier, Elsevier, vol. 19(1), pages 89-106, February.
    5. Linda Toolsema & Maarten Allers, 2014. "Welfare Financing: Grant Allocation and Efficiency," De Economist, Springer, Springer, vol. 162(2), pages 147-166, June.
    6. Tim Callan & Tim Smeeding & Panos Tsakloglou, 2007. "Distributional Effects of Public Education Transfers in Seven European Countries," Papers, Economic and Social Research Institute (ESRI) WP207, Economic and Social Research Institute (ESRI).
    7. Irwin Garfinkel & Lee Rainwater & Timothy M. Smeeding, 2004. "Welfare State Expenditures and the Distribution of Child Opportunities," Center for Policy Research Working Papers, Center for Policy Research, Maxwell School, Syracuse University 63, Center for Policy Research, Maxwell School, Syracuse University.
    8. William Duncombe & John Yinger, 2001. "Does School Consolidation Cut Costs?," Center for Policy Research Working Papers, Center for Policy Research, Maxwell School, Syracuse University 33, Center for Policy Research, Maxwell School, Syracuse University.
    9. Duncombe, William & Yinger, John, 2005. "How much more does a disadvantaged student cost?," Economics of Education Review, Elsevier, Elsevier, vol. 24(5), pages 513-532, October.
    10. Duncombe, William & Yinger, John, 2000. "Financing higher student performance standards: the case of New York State," Economics of Education Review, Elsevier, Elsevier, vol. 19(4), pages 363-386, October.
    11. Phuong Nguyen-Hoang, 2012. "Fiscal effects of budget referendums: evidence from New York school districts," Public Choice, Springer, Springer, vol. 150(1), pages 77-95, January.
    12. Temple, Judy A., 1998. "Recent Clinton Urban Education Initiatives and the Role of School Quality in Metropolitan Finance," National Tax Journal, National Tax Association, vol. 51(n. 3), pages 517-29, September.
    13. Santín, Daniel & Sicilia, Gabriela, 2012. "The educational efficiency drivers in Uruguay: Findings from PISA 2009," MPRA Paper 48420, University Library of Munich, Germany.
    14. William D. Duncombe & John Yinger, 2004. "How Much More Does a Disadvantaged Student Cost?," Center for Policy Research Working Papers, Center for Policy Research, Maxwell School, Syracuse University 60, Center for Policy Research, Maxwell School, Syracuse University.

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