Initially, public schools were financed by the national government using national taxes. From the 190s, there have been concerns about the existence of funding disparities between local school districts and it was argued that it was unfair o peg the childs access to education on locally available resources (Thro 597). However, this has since changed. Currently, a large percentage of the schools financial resources are provided by the local government. While some people view the current method of financing is appropriate, some have questioned its effectiveness.
Public schools rely on taxes for funding. The taxes are collected by the local government. This, therefore, implies that some funds available to finance local schools are dependent on the amount of tax collected by the local government. Rich local governments can afford to fund public schools and ensure that public schools offer a quality education which includes attraction of competent teachers and appropriate infrastructure to support quality education. Education is very important not only for the local governments but also to the whole country at large. Every school-going child has a right to access quality education. The childs future is also determined by the quality of education they are provided with. If this is the case, then this suggest children are exposed to unequal treatment early in their lives if the current arrangement of financing the schools using taxes from the local government continues. This unequal treatment ought to be addressed by creating a level playing field for all the children in the country. Previous statistics suggests that over 90% of the public school funding are met by the local government. To ensure that all the children in the country have access to quality of education, it is necessary for the national government to consider the wealth of each local government. This would mean those local governments that are rich enough to finance their public schools can receive even less than 10% of the funding from the national government while local governments that are so poor that they cannot afford to finance the local education can be allocated more funds.
The national standards for quality education set the same standards that each public ought to meet. While these standards apply to every public school, it is equally expected that a similar set of standards for funding should be established to ensure that all the schools access adequate funding. Public schools can afford to meet the quality standards if they are provided with adequate funding. For example, if schools fail to get sufficient funds, they will not be in a position to recruit, pay, motivate, and retain competent teachers. Further, the schools will have no capacity to add more buildings or maintain dilapidated ones.
There have been arguments that a schools access to financial resources has no impact on its performance (Hanushek 1166). They argue that there is no positive correlation between a school expenditure and performance. Consequently, the current arrangement of school funding has no relationship between the differences in academic performance. Similarly, based on this reasoning, it can be further argued that if a school spend a lot on each student, there is scanty information as to whether the or not there is value added to each of the students.
The major aim of school funding is to develop human capital in the society. The development of human capital is determined factors such as changes in productivity growth and income inequality. It can also be argued that if the same level of efficiency of utilization of schools funds, there is a stratified development of human capital across the action. Consequently, this stratification extends to the evolution of productivity growth as well as income inequality across the nation. Benabou (239) argued that decentralization of the school funding, as well as control, brings about a segregating force and it does not translate into increased efficiency. It has been predicted that a policy that is aimed at equalizing expenditure per student across communities as is the case in some states results in significant gains. The proponents of this strategy argue that it not only reduce the inequality across communities but it will also raise the long-term output of the economy. Social stratification is not a good thing altogether. When there exist differences in expenditures in school systems, there is a tendency for the rich to isolate themselves from the low-income population. The isolation will not end education, but over time, it will have a great impact on the mindset of people. The rich will always have a tendency to believe that those who attend cheap schools are poor and the facilities they used. However, previous studies tend to cast doubt on redistributive funding of schools. Previous research suggests that redistributive funding of schools with the objective of raising school performance have not been successful. For example, efforts to increase funding to poorly funded and poorly performing schools in Kansas did not translate into decreased inequality in performance. In contrast to their expectations, the researchers even found out that the performance declined in some schools. But Bernabou (246) argued that when school expenditure is a matter of concern, it has a tendency to reinforce inequality.
Issues surrounding the countrys public education continues to be one of the most significant public policy. Public education is where the countrys greatest effort to lies turn the ideologies or theories of American dream into actions. Public education has played a significant role in the nations history, and it should not be ignored. Much of what the country has managed to achieve in over 300 years is largely attributed to public school. It is equally expected that public schools will continue to play a significant role in the countrys future. Hochschild and Scovronick (3) contend that while school performance is not dependent on funding, inequality in funding is responsible for increased chances of poor performance among poorly funded schools. According to them, issues such as small classes in early grades, individualized reading instruction, orderly as well as safe facilities, and challenging academic subjects have proved to assist children from poor income backgrounds as children from high-income backgrounds. The challenge, however, comes with teachers. To them, they agree with previous findings which reveal that qualified, and skilled teachers can make a difference in the performance of a child regardless of financial input. However, due to poor facilities, poorly funded schools attract unqualified and unskilled teachers who also have a high rate of turnover. Most of the teachers are also who performed poorly in college, and often they teach outside this field. All these combine to affect negatively the performance of children who study in poorly funded schools.
The discussion of public school funding is usually complex especially when it is based on the need to reduce existing inequalities. Such debates have resulted in many litigations and the more the debate continues, the more the litigations filed. On the other hand, it has often been shown that increased spending per pupil hardly translates into increased performance or reduced inequality. Attempts to reduce school disparities are also politically challenging. Instead of continuing with the debate which might never result in a solution, the best alternative might be to abandon the debate altogether and try to find out a working solution. Heise (1153) pointed out that disparities in public school funding are no longer the issue. Rather, the major issue is no longer equity but adequacy. While the traditional input measures were based on per-pupil expenditure and overall educational spending, the modern measure is quite different. Perhaps this should become the standard measure of leveling out the playing field between well-funded schools and poorly funded schools. In the adequacy decisions, the focus is underlying sufficiency of the education funding. Proponents of the adequacy approach argue that all school-going children are entitled to an education standard of at least a given quality that is the minimum acceptable in the country. Consequently, they argue that the idea of per-pupil expenditure or schools overall spending is no longer important. Instead, they suggest that more money ought to be allocated to bring the worst performing school districts up to the minimum standard of education mandated by clauses on state education (Heise 1153). Rather than the resources provided to the schools in various districts, advocates of adequacy decisions emphasize the need to bridge the gap between qualities of education in various district schools across the nation. Consequently. Advocates of adequacy approach challenge the schools financial systems not on the basis of how much money they spend per pupil or how much money they spend overall, but they challenge them on the quality of education they offer.To them, the education level in every district school needs to be consistent with the quality standards as described in the constitution clauses. It is, therefore, important that the national government continues to intervene in funding of the local schools on the condition that the major issue they should focus on is to bridge the quality gap between the best schools and the least performing schools.
Although there has been a debate about the issue of adequacy and equity Augenblick, Myers, and Anderson (63) argued that is no universal agreement on the definitions of these two terminologies. They pointed out that ensuring equity as well as the adequacy of the education system is the most complex issue faced by the legislature. Besides the difficulty in measuring and implementing the concepts, every state has to meet the needs of a larger number of schools in every district which often vary according to many factors such as costs of doing business, ability to raise local tax, students characteristics as well as needs, and also local preferences for educational services. Based on the challenges of what constitute an effective and efficient funding mechanism that ensure all children access a minimum level of education, there is a need to study previous financing options and find out what worked and what did not work. Perhaps two funding strategies that work might need to be combined to obtained the best solution. For example, a combination of adequacy and equity might result in the best education financing mechanism. In either case, the national government must continue to intervene funding of the local public schools.
Augenblick, John G., John L. Myers, and Amy Berk Anderson. "Equity and adequacy in school funding." The Future of Children (1997): 63-78.
Benabou, Roland. "Equity and efficiency in human capital investment: the local connection." The Review of Economic Studies 63.2 (1996): 237-264.
Hanushek, Eric A. "The economics of schooling: Production and efficiency in public schools." Journal of economic literature 24.3 (1986): 1141-1177.
Heise, Michael. "State constitutions, school finance litigation, and the third wave: From equity to adequacy." Temple L. Rev. 68 (1995): 1151.
Hochschild, Jennifer L., and Nathan Scovronick. The American dream and the public schools. Oxford University Press, 2003.
Thro, William E. "Judicial analysis during the third wave of school finance litigation: The Massachusetts decision as a model." BCL Rev. 35 (1993): 597.
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