PAPER Diversity

Submitted By gunderson1742
Words: 2608
Pages: 11

Public schools rely heavily on income that comes mainly from local services. The bulk of these funds come primarily from local property taxes. This has caused gaps in funding provided to public schools across the nation. These gaps in funding are reinforced by unfair and unequal distribution of dollars from both federal and state levels. In a report addressing the inequalities of public schools funding, the Education Trust found that states with a lower concentration of poverty receive more federal education funds than states with a higher concentration of poverty (Education Trust, 2006). In this paper, I would like to discuss the severity of the funding gaps, the affect it has on children in poverty and also provide possible alternatives for funding.

Property Taxes and School Finance
Among the nation's school districts, annual funding per student can range from less than $4,000 to more than $15,000, and although the “typical” school district with 1,000 or more students receives roughly $5,000 per year for each student, affluent districts may receive $10,000 per student or more (Berliner & Jiddle, 2002)
In 1972, President Nixon’s Commission on School Finance issued a report titled: Schools, People, Money: The Need for Educational Reform, that explored the effects of our reliance on property taxes to fund our schools. This report revealed that many problems with educational funding equity were the result of antiquated state school funding formula. These formulas relied heavily on local property taxes. The main concern with this system of financing is that people living in wealthier districts with higher valued property fund their public schools more money, and at lower tax rates, than the residents in lower-income areas (McElroy, 1972). The authors of For Each and Every Child: A Strategy for Education Equity and Finance provide and excellent example of this dilemma. The authors provided the following example that explains how these problems exists in our current system:
“Imagine two towns: Town A has $100,000 in able property per pupil; Town B has $300,000. If Town A votes to tax its property at 4 percent, it raises $4,000 per pupil. But Town B can tax itself at 2 percent and raise $6,000 per pupil. Town B’s tax rate is half as high as Town A’s, but its public schools enjoy 50 percent more resources per student. State experiences with school finance reform have shown that property-rich communities are not always exclusively home to rich families and students; communities with high home values, for example, may also be home to a large percentage of low-income students, and vice versa. Across different states and regions, the relationship between large property bases (which include commercial, industrial and natural resource producers in addition to residential property) and the income and wealth of the residents varies widely. In 14 states, property taxes (and other local sources) still represent more than 50 percent of total school funding. Indeed, in Illinois and Nevada, 60 percent of education funding still comes from local sources. On the other hand, many states have reduced their reliance on local taxes, have increased the percentage of their educational funding that comes from statewide sources and have sought to use the increased state-level contributions (often as a result of lengthy litigation) to mitigate inequity. In eight states, statewide funding now represents more than 60 percent of total education funding. In New Mexico, for example, 70 percent of such funding comes from statewide sources; in Vermont, more than 85 percent of funding for education comes from statewide sources. Although the link between locally based school finance and per-pupil spending inequities is still a concern for many states and localities, the connection between the two has become increasingly complex. As noted in this report, states should therefore be thoughtful about balancing interests in local control and school funding with the…