The Ford Foundation’s 1970s Program for School Finance Reform: Origins and Overview

Oct 13, 2022 | by
  • Description

As a foundation, Ford tried different approaches to ameliorate social problems.  For example, the Ford Foundation both funded community control of schools to make local fundraising easier and lawsuits to equalize state resources during the late 1960s.  Yet, the ideas behind the Ford Foundation's public education grantmaking conflicted: Should democracy be based on voting or participation? Should schools be run by the community or by experts? Should legislatures volunteer or courts require school finance reform?  From the start of its influential school finance grantmaking in 1969, Ford funded policy ideas rather than political action, looking to the courts for top-down orders to end the discriminatory use of property taxes to fund schools.  The foundation pursued two strategies: supporting groups reforming discriminatory school finance and building "intellectual strength."