CHICAGO
10/13/2010 11:28 am ET | Updated May 25, 2011

Illinois Gets Failing Grade For Fair Distribution Of Education Funds, Study Finds

As parents in Chicago get fired up over the distribution of school funds in certain neighborhoods, a new study by Rutgers University researchers and the Education Law Center shows that the entire state of Illinois has failed in terms of fair distribution of funds for education.

According to a national report card, Illinois received an "F" in funding fairness--one of only three states to earn a failing grade.

"Illinois' shameful ranking on this national survey is not a surprise, but it does serve to demonstrate unequivocally that our flawed system for funding public schools is deeply inequitable compared to the rest of the country," Hoy McConnell, executive director of Business and Professional People for the Public Interest (BPI) said in a statement. "Illinois' system is unfair to everyone in the state--taxpayers, school districts, businesses and--most importantly--Illinois schoolchildren and their families, who are not getting a fair break under the present system."

One especially egregious piece of news for Illinois: the state has the second highest disparity of funding between high-poverty and low-poverty schools nationally.

The study, titled "Is School Funding Fair," used four "fairness indicators" such as funding level, funding distribution, state fiscal effort and public school coverage to reach its conclusions.

BPI explained what some of this means for Illinois:

A state is considered "regressive" if a 30-percent-poverty district receives at least five percent less funding than a zero-percent-poverty district. In Illinois--one of only six states with a statistically significant "regressive" funding structure--districts with 30-percent poverty can expect to receive 21 percent less than a district with zero percent poverty.

"They did a great job of organizing a lot of different measures and putting them into one place," Rob Manwaring, a senior policy analyst with Education Sector, told Education Week. "A lot of this data, policymakers [normally] don't see it."

The hope is that policymakers see this data and do something about it, Manwaring added.

The Illinois Board of Education did not immediately return a call for comment on the study.

Find out how Illinois fared compared to the rest of the country here.