On Doing an Analysis of Equity and Closing the Opportunity Gap


  • Deborah A. Verstegen University of Nevada, Reno




finance, policy, public schools, K-12, equity, equal opportunity, elementary, secondary, constitution, legislature, education


Is public education equitable and does it provide an equal opportunity to all children and youths? Equity in public school funding is a critical issue facing all communities and has been addressed by the courts in all but five states. A key focus is on funding gaps between rich and poor school districts. Recently, attention has turned to the relationship between funding gaps and the opportunity gaps that have real and important impacts on student outcomes. This research provides a comprehensive analysis of equity in a western state of the U.S.A. Fifteen quantitative statistics, weighted for high-cost students, sparsity, district population, and the cost of education, are calculated and discussed. It was found that there are large opportunity gaps among school districts and they are linked to local wealth. This makes the quality of education a function of local wealth that abridges equal opportunities to learn and to be successful, for children and youth in schools and classrooms. Implications for closing the opportunity gap are discussed in the final section.


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Author Biography

Deborah A. Verstegen, University of Nevada, Reno

Deborah Verstegen is Professor of finance, policy and leadership in the College of Education at the University of Nevada, Reno. She earned the Ph.D. at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, where she was awarded the Alumni Achievement Award in 1997. She has written about 300 publications on finance and policy. In 2007 she held an endowed chair in Financial Management at the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign. She has served as editor of the Journal of Education Finance, as consultant to local, state and national organizations/governments, expert witness in state finance proceedings, has twice been a member of the Board of Directors of the American Education Finance Association and is currently on the Board of Advisors of the National Education Finance Conference. Her text, Financing Education in a Climate of Change (with Brimley and Garfield, 2016) has just been released by Pearson.




How to Cite

Verstegen, D. A. (2015). On Doing an Analysis of Equity and Closing the Opportunity Gap. Education Policy Analysis Archives, 23, 41. https://doi.org/10.14507/epaa.v23.1809