The 1960 census and its use in apportionment of the state Legislature largely ended the reign of the Pork Chop Gang and ushered in a Legislature that more closely reflected the demographic makeup of Florida.[1] In 1973, this recently reapportioned Florida Legislature created the Florida Education Finance Program (FEFP) to provide a more equitable distribution of state and local education funds. From the establishment of Florida’s first schools, funding for education had served to entrench segregation, underfund education for Black students, and further white supremacy. The state adopted the Minimum Foundation Program in 1948 to allocate education funding to counties according to their need. The FEFP changed the funding formula to allocate funds on a per-pupil basis, accounting for student participation in various educational programs, such as special education, and accounting for cost of living, grade levels, and differences in the local tax base in different geographic areas of the state.[2] At the time of its adoption, it was viewed as a national model of ensuring equity among school districts.

However, equitable policy does not necessarily mean equitable implementation. Though the FEFP accounts for the number of students according to their grade, disability status, county of residence, and more, it does not account for factors such as the number of students living in poverty, which in 2021 includes nearly 1 in 5 of Florida’s children. Including a measure of the economic stability of local students and their families would significantly improve equity in the FEFP funding formula across districts. In fact in 2022, the state was graded a “D” in funding distribution by the Education Law Center in 2022, which indicates the extent to which additional funds are provided to districts with higher levels of student poverty.




[1] Loren, Parke B., and Ira A. England. “Florida Education: Running a Political Obstacle Course.” The Phi Delta Kappan, vol. 50, no. 1, 1968, pp. 27–30.

[2] Sarah L. Mendonça, A longitudinal study of the distributional equity of the Florida Education Finance Program,” Unpublished doctoral dissertation, 2001.