Finally, On a Path to a Holistic Funding Fix. What House Concurrent Resolution 24 Could Mean
When a high-stakes lawsuit over Delaware’s school funding system settled last fall, advocates said it didn’t go far enough. Now, at least 24 legislators agree Delaware must do more, including majorities of Senate and House Education Committees, the majority of the Legislative Black Caucus, and caucus leaders in both Chambers.
A new concurrent resolution, introduced by Rep. Nnamdi Chukwuocha and sponsored by Sens. Laura Sturgeon and Elizabeth Lockman, builds on the momentum of the settlement, Senate Bill 56. More importantly, it serves as a powerful symbol that legislators are actually committed to doing more to modernize Delaware’s inequitable funding system in a more holistic way.
This is big news. And it signals that legislators are ready to lead the work on systemic solutions—long urged by advocates—to improve the transparency, flexibility, responsiveness to student needs, and predictability of the entire education funding system.
The House Concurrent Resolution aims to build upon the October settlement—which recommended making “Opportunity Funding” a permanent fixture for Delaware schools—by actually addressing the state’s underlying funding process and formula. That formula, according to experts, countless reports, and advocates, is highly inequitable, and leaves vulnerable children and their schools at a disadvantage.
HCR24 “celebrates the passage of SB56,” the bill that would make Opportunity Funding permanent, but also “[d]escribes the need for additional action from the General Assembly to update and modernize remaining underlying systemic education funding inequities.”
The resolution requires the Department of Education to report information to the General Assembly to help illuminate systemic inequities in the current education funding system to inform future legislative proposals.
Opportunity Funding, an investment that Governor John Carney first proposed and the legislature approved in 2018, provides schools with additional money for English learners and students who are from low-income families. The settlement proposes that Opportunity Funding become permanent and almost double in size to $60 million annually by the 2024-25 school year ($35 million per year for the 2021-22 and 2022-23 school years).[Learn more about Opportunity Funding at our “101” blog.]
While research shows that more money for students with high needs is a good thing, advocates like the Education Equity Delaware coalition believe that we must address how funding is allocated, not just how much.
Now, legislators agree that Opportunity Funding is a “floor,” and not a “ceiling.” This additional funding only impacts less than five percent of the overall education budget; the structure of the remaining 95 percent remains the same.
Our current system was built to address the needs of children in the 1940s. The world has changed since then. Our student population has evolved to comprise diverse populations and unique needs. Our access to technology, the connections among our schools and their communities, higher education partners and local employers have changed dramatically. To ensure we’re not only providing the resources that all of our children need to succeed, but delivering it in ways that enable school leaders the flexibility they need to use those dollars to meet the unique needs of their students, we need to step back and modernize our funding system holistically.
We’re approaching a century; it’s past time. Nearly every other state has modernized its system, (some multiple times), since the 1940s. We can do this. HCR24 could help advocates finally reach that ceiling. Here’s how:
- Sign this petition to encourage legislators to support this resolution
- Share the petition with your networks
- Follow Education Equity Delaware on Facebook for updates and information