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Teachers Network Leadership Institute:
Fair Share for Our Schools: A Multidisciplinary Curriculum:
What Inequities Exist in New York State?
View the Short Video: Campaign for Fiscal Equality: Students Speak Out

Lesson Materials (word document)

Aim: Students will examine funding differences across New York State. They will see how funding is related to the number of students in a school district and the location of a school district.

Connection/Motivation: Yesterday we saw how schools are affected when they don’t receive equal amounts of money. (How Does Money Affect Education? )Today we’re going to learn how this is really happening in New York State.


  • Chart paper
  • Chart of school statistics
  • New York State map with school district locations identified

Procedure/teaching points:

  • Discuss what it was like when schools didn’t receive fair amounts of money in the previous activity (How Does Money Affect Education?). Ask students who represented schools given less money what their students would not be able to have or learn since they didn’t have enough resources.
  • Emphasize that this is really happening—schools in New York State do not receive equal amounts of money.
  • Tell students that they will be examining how some schools receive more money than others and looking for patterns in who receives more and less money.
  • Explain all relevant terms: per-pupil spending, student enrollment, percent receiving free lunch, etc.
  • Tell students that they will be working in partners to solve some mathematical problems using this data and that the answers will help us understand how money is spent on schools in New York State.
  • Divide students into partnerships and hand out map, statistics chart, and worksheet with questions asking students to analyze the data.

Student engagement/activity:

  • Students should use the data chart and the map to analyze the spending data (see sample worksheet for possible analysis questions).
  • Allow students about 15-20 minutes to make calculations.
  • The teacher should circulate, monitor students, and prompt them to see the significance of their findings (for example, “What do you notice about the enrollment of the schools who receive the least money?” or “What patterns do you see?”)
  • When the teacher sees that most groups have completed the task, he/she should have the groups stop, bring their papers and meet on the rug for a discussion.


  • Ask groups to share their findings; create a class chart that shows both the per-pupil spending and enrollment.
  • Discuss what students notice about the data (for example, schools with the largest enrollments receive less money, students in Port Jefferson receive about $10,000 more than New York City and Syracuse schools).
  • Introduce idea that equal funding is not always the most fair; discuss the greater needs of some districts. For example, large city districts tend to need more money because they have more special education and ELL students and districts serving poorer populations need to spend more money on supplies and materials for students.

Application/extensions/follow up

  • Data from this lesson can be used in student’s letters (see Write a Persuasive Letter)
  • In addition to analyzing how spending is related to district location and population relate, students can look for connections between spending and percent learning disabled, classified as English Language Learners, and/or receiving free lunch.
  • Students can compare New York State spending to other states nationwide.


  • Students’ worksheets can be used to assess their understanding of the terms and their ability to see trends and patterns.
  • Teacher can judge students’ understanding of material based on participation in group work and discussion.

Subject Areas:

Grade Levels:  3-5

About the teachers:

Jennifer Flandro began her 4th year of teaching. Jennifer currently teaches 4th Grade at P.S. 34 in the East Village. Jennifer finds teaching in NYC to be very fulfilling, and her professional interests are centered around the urban classroom. Specifically, she is interested in the education of homeless children, the implementation of high-stakes testing and standards in high-need schools, diversity (or lack of diversity) in the classroom, and the use of NYC cultural resources to enhance instruction. Aside from teaching, Jennifer enjoys reading, traveling, cycling, and running.



Elizabeth Gil is an Academic Intervention Services teacher at Community School 211—The Bilingual School in the Bronx. She has been teaching at CS 211 for six and a half years. Elizabeth works with monolingual and bilingual students across the subject areas in grades Pre-K to 8. She is a member of Teachers of English to Speakers of other Languages (TESOL). She participated in the Fulbright Memorial Fund Program for educators as a member of the October 2003 cohort and also has participated in summer seminars sponsored by the Gilder Lehrman Institute of American History.



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