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Why is it so hard to help central city schools?

Author

Listed:
  • 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)

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.

Suggested Citation

  • William Duncombe & John Yinger, 1997. "Why is it so hard to help central city schools?," Journal of Policy Analysis and Management, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., vol. 16(1), pages 85-113.
  • Handle: RePEc:wly:jpamgt:v:16:y:1997:i:1:p:85-113
    DOI: 10.1002/(SICI)1520-6688(199724)16:1<85::AID-PAM5>3.0.CO;2-E
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    References listed on IDEAS

    as
    1. 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.
    2. Reschovsky, Andrew, 1994. "Fiscal Equalization and School Finance," National Tax Journal, National Tax Association, vol. 47(1), pages 185-97, March.
    3. Fare, Rolf & Knox Lovell, C. A., 1978. "Measuring the technical efficiency of production," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 19(1), pages 150-162, October.
    4. De Borger, B & Kerstens, K. & Moesen, W. & Vanneste, J., 1994. "Explaining Differences in Productive Efficiency: An Application to Belgian Municipalities," Public Choice, Springer, vol. 80(3-4), pages 339-358, September.
    5. 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;National Tax Journal, vol. 47(1), pages 89-110, March.
    6. Ratcliffe, Kerri & Riddle, Bruce & Yinger, John, 1990. "The fiscal condition of school districts in Nebraska: Is small beautiful?," Economics of Education Review, Elsevier, vol. 9(1), pages 81-99, March.
    7. Reschovsky, Andrew, 1994. "Fiscal Equalization and School Finance," National Tax Journal, National Tax Association;National Tax Journal, vol. 47(1), pages 185-197, March.
    Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)

    Citations

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    Cited by:

    1. Phuong Nguyen-Hoang, 2012. "Fiscal effects of budget referendums: evidence from New York school districts," Public Choice, Springer, vol. 150(1), pages 77-95, January.
    2. William Duncombe & John Yinger, 2001. "Does School Consolidation Cut Costs?," Center for Policy Research Working Papers 33, Center for Policy Research, Maxwell School, Syracuse University.
    3. Marlow, Michael L., 1999. "Spending, school structure, and public education quality. Evidence from California," Economics of Education Review, Elsevier, vol. 19(1), pages 89-106, February.
    4. Tae Ho Eom & William Duncombe & Phuong Nguyen-Hoang & John Yinger, 2014. "The Unintended Consequences of Property Tax Relief: New York’s STAR Program," Education Finance and Policy, MIT Press, vol. 9(4), pages 446-480, October.
    5. Bo Zhao, 2020. "How to Design a State Education Aid Formula That Is Equitable, Adequate, and Politically Feasible: The Case of Connecticut," Working Papers 21-1, Federal Reserve Bank of Boston.
    6. Lee Rainwater & Timothy Smeeding & Irwin Garfinkel, 2004. "Welfare State Expenditures and the Distribution of Child Opportunities," LIS Working papers 379, LIS Cross-National Data Center in Luxembourg.
    7. Bo Zhao, 2020. "Estimating the Cost Function of Connecticut Public K–12 Education: Implications for Inequity and Inadequacy in School Spending," Working Papers 20-6, Federal Reserve Bank of Boston.
    8. Temple, Judy A., 1998. "Recent Clinton Urban Education Initiatives and the Role of School Quality in Metropolitan Finance," National Tax Journal, National Tax Association;National Tax Journal, vol. 51(3), pages 517-529, September.
    9. Robert Inman, 2005. "Financing Cities," NBER Working Papers 11203, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    10. repec:kap:iaecre:v:14:y:2008:i:2:p:228-241 is not listed on IDEAS
    11. Duncombe, William & Yinger, John, 2000. "Financing higher student performance standards: the case of New York State," Economics of Education Review, Elsevier, vol. 19(4), pages 363-386, October.
    12. Kalyan Chakraborty & John Poggio, 2008. "Efficiency and Equity in School Funding: A Case Study for Kansas," International Advances in Economic Research, Springer;International Atlantic Economic Society, vol. 14(2), pages 228-241, May.
    13. 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.
    14. Kathryn Wilson & Kristina Lambright & Timothy M. Smeeding, 2006. "School Finance, Equivalent Educational Expenditure, and the Income Distribution: Equal Dollars or Equal Chances for Success?," Education Finance and Policy, MIT Press, vol. 1(4), pages 396-424, September.
    15. Linda Toolsema & Maarten Allers, 2014. "Welfare Financing: Grant Allocation and Efficiency," De Economist, Springer, vol. 162(2), pages 147-166, June.
    16. Duncombe, William & Yinger, John, 2005. "How much more does a disadvantaged student cost?," Economics of Education Review, Elsevier, vol. 24(5), pages 513-532, October.
    17. Irwin Garfinkel & Lee Rainwater & Timothy M. Smeeding, 2004. "Welfare State Expenditures and the Distribution of Child Opportunities," Center for Policy Research Working Papers 63, Center for Policy Research, Maxwell School, Syracuse University.
    18. William Duncombe & Yilin Hou, 2014. "The Savings Behavior of Special Purpose Governments: A Panel Study of New York School Districts," Public Budgeting & Finance, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 34(3), pages 1-23, September.
    19. Timothy Smeeding, 2002. "Real Standards of Living and Public Support for Children: A Cross-National Comparison," LIS Working papers 345, LIS Cross-National Data Center in Luxembourg.
    20. Santín, Daniel & Sicilia, Gabriela, 2012. "The educational efficiency drivers in Uruguay: Findings from PISA 2009," MPRA Paper 48420, University Library of Munich, Germany.
    21. Timothy Smeeding & Irwin Garfinkel & Lee Rainwater, 2005. "Welfare State Expenditures and the Redistribution of Well-Being: Children, Elders, and Others in Comparative Perspective," LIS Working papers 387, LIS Cross-National Data Center in Luxembourg.
    22. Tim Callan & Tim Smeeding & Panos Tsakloglou, 2007. "Distributional Effects of Public Education Transfers in Seven European Countries," Papers WP207, Economic and Social Research Institute (ESRI).
    23. 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., vol. 25(4), pages 897-919.
    24. Kalyan Chakraborty & Vincent C. Blackburn, 2013. "Efficiency and Equity in Funding for Government Schools in Australia," Australian Economic Papers, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 52(3-4), pages 127-142, December.

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