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Tribal advocates keep up legal pressure for fair political maps; 12-member jury sworn in for Trump's historic criminal trial; the importance of healthcare decision planning; and a debt dilemma: poll shows how many people wrestle with college costs.

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Civil rights activists say a court ruling could end the right to protest in three southern states, a federal judge lets January 6th lawsuits proceed against former President Trump, and police arrest dozens at a Columbia University Gaza protest.

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Rural Wyoming needs more vocational teachers to sustain its workforce pipeline, Ohio environmental advocates fear harm from a proposal to open 40-thousand forest acres to fracking and rural communities build bike trail systems to promote nature, boost the economy.

Alabama schools among 'most underfunded' in the nation

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Monday, January 29, 2024   

A new report showed Alabama is among 39 states that "critically underfunds" its K-12 public schools.

The report on the state school finance systems from the Albert Shanker Institute found the state is spending less on education now than it did back in 2006, leaving nearly $5 billion on the table which could be going to school districts.

Bruce Baker, professor of education at the University of Miami and the report's co-author, said it leaves students at a disadvantage and widens opportunity gaps.

"It's a low economic-capacity state," Baker pointed out. "Even putting up national average or slightly higher than national average effort, you get 89.3% of kids attending inadequately funded districts; 57.3% attending chronically underfunded districts."

He noted in comparison to other states, Alabama has higher poverty rates and a less robust economy. He thinks one way to counter the lack of state funding is to have the federal government step in to help meet students' needs. Critics of public education argued it is too costly and voiced concerns about the role of teachers' unions.

Mary Cathryn Ricker, president of the Albert Shanker Institute, a nonprofit, nonpartisan research organization, emphasized the increasing expectations on schools and the need for additional support. With four of five states spending less on funding than they did 15 years ago, the report suggested every state conduct audits to ensure funding levels are adequate, and equal opportunity factors are being considered.

"Really the last thing they should really review or audit is whether the students with the greatest needs in their state, that need to get addressed, are getting the funding to have those needs addressed," Ricker urged.

The report also uncovered significant funding disparities in many states, with Black students attending underfunded districts twice as often as white students and Hispanic students also facing considerable funding gaps.


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