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Shaping Equitable Distribution of State Education Funding to the Schools

Article about Preston Green's research in law and education

by Joe Savrock (October 2008)

Preston GreenUNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - When state funding is distributed to public schools in a disproportionate manner, it is often minority groups and disadvantaged children who are shortchanged, according to the work of an educational law scholar in Penn State’s College of Education and his colleague at Rutgers University.

Preston Green, associate professor of educational leadership and law at Penn State, has done extensive work that examines how law impacts minority and disadvantaged students in their ability to obtain a quality education. He has collaborated with Bruce Baker, of Rutgers University, to publish numerous articles that address the issue of equitable state funding to public schools.

Their work resulted in a 2005 decision by the Kansas Supreme Court in the Montoy v. Kansas case to overturn a policy of school funding that the state legislature was using. Green and Baker found that the Kansas legislators were employing a formula that resulted in a disproportionate distribution of funds among school districts. As a result of the formula, urban schools—where most of the state’s minority students were educated—were receiving less funding than rural schools.

Green and Baker discussed Kansas’ school finance practices in a 2005 article titled “Tricks of the Trade: State Legislative Actions in School Finance Policy that Perpetuate Racial Disparities in the Post-Brown Era,” which appeared in the American Journal of Education. Their major finding was that the school districts that were being shortchanged in Kansas were the same districts that were subject to separate but equal education prior to the landmark 1954 Brown v. Board of Education decision.

Green has also been instrumental in setting up Penn State’s joint degree program in law and education, which became operational in September 2007. “The joint degree program provides graduates with the many options in the fields of education and law," states Green. "They can work as attorneys, administrators, or policy makers.”

Additionally, Green organizes The Pennsylvania State University Law and Education Institute, which is held each June. The Institute helps administrators and educators understand legal issues that often arise in the schools. The Institute meets continuing professional education requirements for Pennsylvania professionals—Act 45 for school and system leaders and Act 48 for professional educators—as well as continuing legal education (CLE) credits for attorneys.

For more information on the joint degree program or the upcoming Institute, please e-mail Professor Green at