Many challenges have faced the K-12 education system, but one of the most prevalent is the issue of financing the public institutions. The funds that come from the government have been inadequate for many years and have not been even in all the states, which brings in the issue of inequity. Although there have been strategies to deal with these problems, some of them have not been adequately dealt with, especially the question of equity. Many scholars have used the poor and rich states dichotomy to analyze how education funds are distributed, how they are utilized in the state schools and the outcome that results from their utilization. The problems are almost universal to all states, including New York, which is among the wealthiest nations. However, the issues that face New York slightly deviate from the ones that meet other poorer states such as Utah. It is therefore essential to access the procedure used to fund the schools, how the funds are raised and later distributed to the state schools, and come up with recommendations on which parts need to be improved.
There is no stable value of how much money state and local schools should get from their respective state and federal governments. Every state has its strategies to gather and distribute funds that differ from all others. New York is one of the states that give the most significant amount of money to students. The most recent statistics show that New York spends more than $18000 for every student in the state schools (Baker, Sciarra & Farrie, 2014). This is more than double the amount spent by Utah and other poorer states. Despite the considerable gap, some complaints such as poor buildings and collapsing classrooms are universal to the wealthy and the weak countries. The more prosperous states are, however, able to deal with such problems better due to their various sources of finance from state to local and federal dollars. This is the case with New York where the taxpayers' money benefits the local schools.
New York adopted a formula to finance schools based on their budgets which are set in consideration of several factors. These factors include the poverty levels in schools, English fluency of the students therein and presence of students with special needs among many others. This formula outdid the one that operated before 2007 whereby school funding was tangled with the teachers' salaries (Ushomirsky & Williams, 2015). This formula was biased because the wealthy schools that managed to hire qualified teachers ended up getting more funds while the ones that were poor got worse. The method changed to ensure that more funds were given to the deserving schools and that no bias was experienced during the sharing of funds. One of the most significant challenges has been in the implementation of the formula, which has almost rendered it a failure.
In New York, money spent per student is the same for all schools, both the wealthy family dominated and the poor ones. Although this may be seen as equity because all children receive an equal share, in the real sense it is inequity because the poor schools should earn more than the able ones. This is because it takes more funds to keep a needy child in school than it takes to keep the rich one. Those who attend the wealthy schools in most cases come from well-to-do families, and their families can sustain them in school even without the government funds.
One of the most neglected areas is how the funds that are granted to the schools are used. It is assumed that the more a school is funded, the better the performance. This is not always the case. Some of the schools that receive most funds do not necessarily register a good performance. On the other hand, those that receive fewer funds do not always record a poor performance (Darling-Hammond, 2015). The factor that determines how a school performs is how the funds allocated to them is used. In most cases, the money is used to hire more teachers who do not improve performance.
The case is no different in New York. The state schools do not give the best performances. On the contrary, the ones that receive lesser funds sometimes perform better. The question of how much funds do not matter as much as the question of how the funds are used. If the high poverty schools decide to utilize their funds to improve the curriculum and quality of education instead of hiring more teachers, the chances are high that their performance will be better (Baker, Sciarra & Farrie, 2014). The opposite is also true. This explains why some high-poverty schools perform better than the richer ones. It also explains why both types of schools experience the same problems even though some are better funded.
Although New York is generally wealthy state where most students come from well-to-do families, there are also poor students. Some districts within the state re poorer than others. The sharing of funds between students and districts is done equally regardless of the financial status. This means that the wealthy only get more affluent and probably retain excess money while the poor have a deficit of funds. There are proposals that poor districts and families should receive more so that they reach parity with the rest and enhance healthy competition (Pasachoff, 2011).
The finance sharing ratio among schools should be done according to the wealth status of the districts. Some districts do not raise much from property taxes because they are not well endowed with properties. On the other hand, some districts raise a lot of money from taxes and they can fund their schools better (Darling-Hammond, 2015). The state should consider the amount a district can increase before they share the state funds among the respective regions. In that way, the country will be able to reduce if not bridge the gap of the disparity between the districts.
Although no fixed amount can be considered the right amount, the federal government should ensure that it bridges all the gaps that have not been bridged at the lower levels. It is the only body that can be able to bring public equity for all states, districts, and schools. This is because even the countries that receive a significant share per student such as New York are yet to be satisfied with the amount they receive. In that case, it is clear then that the states on the lower end are underfunded.
Another issue that needs to be looked into is how the funds are used. Each school should be able to account to the district, state, and the national government. Each school should look for the most appropriate way to spend the funds allocated to them (Leachman & Mai, 2014). In most cases, schools use their resources the way their neighboring schools do, not knowing that each school has different needs from the others. For instance, while some schools have shortages of teachers, others have lack of classes. Another school could be having enough teachers and classes, but the teachers could be underqualified and therefore in need of educational advancement for the teachers. In that case, the school should focus their funds on the improvement of the quality of education they offer. In other words, a school should identify the areas that need improvement and work on them regardless of what other schools are doing.
Segregation in schools is another area that needs attention. In the white-dominated states, New York among them, there is high segregation. Although there have been endless efforts to ensure equality for all students irrespective of their race, schools always find themselves trapped in the same issue over the years (Leachman & Mai, 2014). Blacks and Latinos should receive a share equal to the whites when it comes to resource sharing. Students with special needs should not only get the share that other students get, but also an additional percentage to cater for their needs.
Generally, there should be an increase in the supply of funds to schools by the local, state and federal government. Each body should work to ensure that it has, in the best way possible, maximized the funds they allocate towards the improvement of education. Finally, the formula used to distribute school funds should be reinforced, and necessary steps should be taken to make sure that the method is followed to the end.
Baker, B. D., Sciarra, D. G., & Farrie, D. (2014). Is school funding fair? A national report card. Education Law Center.
Darling-Hammond, L. (2015). The flat world and education: How America's commitment to equity will determine our future. Teachers College Press.
Leachman, M., & Mai, C. (2014). Most states still funding schools less than before the recession. Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, 16.
Pasachoff, E. (2011). Special education, poverty, and the limits of private enforcement. Notre Dame L. Rev., 86, 1413.
United States Department of Education. (2008, August 19). Digest of educational statistics, 2007, table 360. National Center for Educational Statistics. Retrieved from http://nces.ed.gov/programs/digest/d07/tables/dt07_360.aspUshomirsky, N., & Williams, D. (2015). Funding Gaps 2015: Too Many States Still Spend Less on Educating Students Who Need the Most. Education Trust.
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