All but one school district in Harris County is underfunded, according to new analysis from Rice Kinder Institute director

Ruth López Turley. Photo by Jeff Fitlow/Rice University

Academic achievement gaps cost the U.S. economy trillions of dollars each year, but significant progress toward closing these gaps has not been made since measurement began in 1969, despite significant developments in teaching and learning.

Ruth López Turley. Photo by Jeff Fitlow/Rice University

Ruth Lopez Turley, director of Rice University’s Kinder Institute for Urban Research and professor of sociology in Rice's School of Social Sciences, examines this topic in a new blog post on the Urban Edge. According to her analysis of new data from the School Finance Indicators Database, all but one school district in Harris County is underfunded. In addition, she finds that districts whose percentage of white students is in the single digits have the largest spending gaps (from Aldine ISD at 2% to Houston ISD at 9%). These districts spent about half of what they needed to achieve average performance.

Turley argues that this data points to the need for greater investments in local schools, and she’s not alone: Sixty-seven percent of Kinder Houston Area Survey respondents agreed schools need more funding in 2022.

“Per-pupil spending in Harris County not only needs to increase significantly, it also needs to be distributed more equitably, giving districts with greater needs the funding they need. Closing these spending gaps will open the door to closing costly achievement gaps that have plagued us for far too long,” she wrote on the Urban Edge.

For more information or to schedule an interview with Turley to discuss her findings in further detail, contact Amy McCaig, senior media relations specialist at Rice, at 713-348-6777 or