Funding Student Learning by Way of a Financial System Part 2 – Why Funding Student Learning is Hard

In our last blog, we introduced a publication entitled “Funding Student Learning,” released by the National Working Group on Funding Student Learning. In the publication, Chairman Jacob E. Adams, Jr. discusses the importance of new systems in burgeoning change within education. Systems were very key in his arguments for better funding student learning. He gives us insight into how hard it actually is to fund student learning. One reason is that it will take creating system-wide change as mentioned in our last post, but those systems are actually a rather ominous task to execute, considering the relatively easier task of creating single programs, changing a formula, or adjusting a funding level.

change is hardAdams continues why this change is hard. Although hard to swallow, understanding why funding student learning is hard illuminates the prevalent issues, enabling key decision makers to accept the situation, while giving them time to conjure up ideas about potential solutions.

The second reason funding student learning is hard is because the changes necessary require district leaders to refine their roles and responsibilities. They will have to set standards, provide funding, and define accountability, among other tasks. This sets the stage for them to reallocate resources to local circumstances, giving them control to the way they are used.

Lastly, student learning is hard because the financial systems currently in place have been there for a long time, and so change is difficult. Adams quotes, “The status quo is embedded in finance arrangements that have persisted for decades, and questions remain about whether various stakeholders will mobilize to support or oppose such changes,” says Adams. Because the current systems need to shift, the ensuing actions would mean changes in the supporters and skeptics of a new system. This movement’s potential then leans on the people and communities who are willing to place the focus on student learning, rather than individual or organizational interest.

In the end, we have seen what a new system to fund student learning can do, but action is the hardest part. For if nothing happens, and we continue what has been done, then nothing will change. The time is here though. The resources, knowledge, and people available, along with the economic environment are pushing us in the right direction. Understanding the issues and difficulties is where we start though, preparing us and urging us to take the first step.



Adams, Jacob E., Jr. Funding Student Learning. School Finance Redesign Project, 2008.

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