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Funding of Public Education: Week 6

Prior to reading chapter 8 in the textbook, I never really though about how public education was financed or the various ways these schools could receive funding.  I never put into consideration that different students with more intense needs would require more money per student.  When I really begin to think about how ESL students require more funding for education, it makes sense that because more resources go into teaching these kids (Spanish-speaking teacher, ESL textbooks, and assessments) they would need more funding.  Also, certain school districts require more financial assistance than others—a poorer school district would need much more assistance than a wealthier district.  When I put into perspective how various schools and students require differing amounts of financial assistance at the public school level I was interested where the money would then come from.  I was also deeply concerned about the equality of the education students were getting district and state wide—is it fair that students from low income neighborhoods potentially receive a lesser education, all because of money?

I knew that the state primarily funded education but I didn’t really have a concrete idea about where all the money came from.  I have come to learn that funding for schools comes from either the local, state, or federal level and it varies from state to state.  Examples of local funding (amounts up to 44% of school expenditures) (Ornstein, Levin, & Gutter, 2001, p. 237) would include property tax, fundraising campaigns, and exclusive property rights with companies.  The state also provides significant financial contributions to public education—according to the textbook, elementary and secondary education on average make up about 34% (Ornstein, Levin, & Gutter, 2001, p. 240).  State aid comes from sales taxes and personal income taxes, however the aid varies greatly depending on what state a student is living in.  Some states have higher tax rates and therefore can contribute more money to fund educational institutions.  Federal education funding does not contribute as much to education as does the state and local board, however it has become more involved since the No Child Left Behind Act.  Federal funding has now become directly linked to how curriculum standards and how well each school and school district perform on standardized assessments.  If a state does not show yearly progress (adequate yearly progress, AYP) then their funding may be reduced or cut.  It is much easier now to see how many schools fall short of meeting the federal curriculum requirement.  As mentioned above, if a school district is from a poorer state or district, they will naturally have less funding to use towards education.  That funding can effect purchasing of textbooks, hiring more experienced teachers and specialized teachers (ESL & Special Education teachers), rebuilding infrastructure, and a school districts ability to properly teach its students.  If a school is facing hardships mentioned it is no surprise to me that they are having trouble meeting AYP as well.

Funding for public education is a complicated, tedious, and at many times frustrating endeavor for each level of funding, from the local, state, and federal government.  It is unfortunate to think that a child’s education can be directly correlated to how much money their school district has.  It is also unfortunate to see that the federal funding of public education is dependent on how well students perform on standardized assessment, yet each state differs greatly on how they fund education.  It seems unfair that education is mostly funded by the state, yet all states are financially at the mercy of federal standards.

In my opinion, I think that funding should go towards rebuilding run-down schools districts, the better training of teachers and pre-service teachers, and providing adequate resources for teaching children.  I think that the education of America’s youth is extremely important, as they will be the citizens of tomorrow.  I do not have all the knowledge to make radical opinions about how the state and federal government should regulate spending, but I would like to believe that the quality of education is taken into great consideration.  I think that funding is always going to be a complicated and controversial matter, however I feel as if it is going in the right direction.  With the revisions by the federal government by the Obama Administration, which includes reforming NCLB to more fully fund the law and bettering early childhood education, college and teacher recruitment (Ornstein, Levin, & Gutter, 2001, p. 249), I have faith that states will begin to see improvement in funding of their schools and improvement in the quality of education for all.  The idea of public education was founded on the idea that every child should have the same opportunity to a wholesome education.  I hope that with budget reforms from the local, state, and federal level, no child will be denied the proper education due to inadequate funding.

 References

Ornstein, A. C., Levine, D. U., & Gutek, G. L. (2011). Foundations of Education   (11th ed.). Belmont, CA: Wadsworth Cengage Learning.

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