Dr. David Knight is an assistant professor of education finance and policy at the University of Washington College of Education. His research focuses on the economics of education and school finance. He studies educational systems through the lens of economic theory and methodologies. His work emphasizes distributive justice, racial/ethnic and socioeconomic finance equity, systematic racial segregation into under-resourced school districts, and policies aimed at reducing inequality and addressing longstanding racial and income-based disparities in educational opportunity.
David's work explores three foundational aspects of educational systems. The first examines how school systems are funded and whether resources are allocated equitably. In a recent study, he found that state education funding cuts following the Great Recession disproportionately impacted higher-poverty school districts. Other work in this area explores racial/ethnic and income-based funding gaps across schools in the same school district as well as funding disparities between charter and traditional public school districts. David's second area of research examines educator labor markets. His work in this area has shown that underrepresented students of color and low-income students in the Los Angeles Unified School District were over twice as likely to have their teacher laid off in 2009 and 2010, compared to higher income, white, or Asian students. In 2010-11, the district implemented an equity-oriented layoff policy that substantially reduced inequality in the distribution of teacher layoffs. His more recent research on educator labor markets draws on the Texas statewide longitudinal data system. This work examines the inequitable distribution of highly qualified principals and teachers. Other work examines the private sector career paths of former teachers, as well as staffing patterns within specialized high schools such as Texas Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math Academies and Early College High Schools. His third area of research draws on cost-effectiveness analysis to assess the relative efficiency of alternate resource allocation strategies. His research in this area compares the relative cost and effects of instructional coaching to traditional forms of teacher professional development. Related work compares the relative cost-effectiveness of teacher salary increases and class size reduction, alternate early childhood interventions, and online versus in-person forms of instructional coaching. These three areas of research are united by a focus on equal educational opportunity.
David holds a Ph.D. in educational policy and a master’s degree in economics from the University of Southern California. He earned a master’s degree in economics education and bachelor’s degrees in economics and anthropology from the University of Kansas. He previously served as an assistant professor at the University of Texas at El Paso College of Education and as the Director of the Center for Education Research and Policy Studies at the University of Texas at El Paso.