This week, Carolina Journal published an opinion piece by syndicated columnist John Hood on the funding of public schools. In his piece, Hood argues for a systematic change in the way North Carolina funds public education. Hood points to a new study jointly issued by the California-based Reason Foundation and the John Locke Foundation to assert his case. According to Hood:

The Reason/JLF report proposed student-centered funding as an alternative. It rests on four foundational principles: fairness (per-pupil funding should be based on student needs), transparency (funding systems should be simple and easy to understand), portability(funding should follow children to their schools of choice), and autonomy (funding should arrive at districts and schools as real dollars that can be spent flexibly, in exchange for accountability for outcomes).

Essentially, the state would attach a minimum amount of school funding to the backpack of each student. The state would then increase the amount for some students based on the challenges they face and the higher costs they may present to their schools.

Hood points to Hawaii and Texas as examples of vastly different states who have benefitted from a similar per-pupil funding structure:

In other ways, Hawaii and Texas are vastly different — in the structure and funding of public education, in geography and settlement patterns, in political culture. Still, both have adopted systems that more closely align education funding to varying needs and enrollment patterns. Both make it easy for practitioners and the general public to know what gets funded and why.

Hood suggests lawmakers consider such a model in the coming years:

Public schools are likely again to be a funding priority during the 2020 and 2021 legislative sessions. Lawmakers should couple the new dollars with fundamental reform of the funding system. North Carolinians across the political spectrum should welcome it.

Read the full piece here. Learn more about PreK-12 education in North Carolina here. Read the study to which Hood refers, here.