Secretary of Education Discussion 5: Funding Equity Issues

Carol Broos is one of twelve teachers who have been invited to participate in a round table discussion concerning the direction of education with the new Secretary of Education Arne Duncan on Jan 21. She was sent five questions in preparation for the meeting. This is the fifth one:

How should funding equity issues be addressed?

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Funding equity could be achieved by:

1) A fundamental belief that all people may be created equal, but do not live in equal conditions must be understood;
2) Eliminate local property taxes to fund education. Too often wealthy suburban communities have more to spend on education than poorer urban and rural areas;
2) A national tax based on wealth (not just income) should be imposed to fund education. Many European nations already have such a tax system. Thus, national funds should be used to apportion funds for education according to a formula that administers funds progressively. The wealthier communities get less and the poorer communities get more;
3) State income taxes should be used to fund education. This income tax should be progressive as was the original intent of the income tax during the Progressive Era of U.S. history;
4) Offer housing and education subsidies as well as higher wages to attract better talented teachers to more needy areas.
Sounds really well thought out. In Washington State, the state taxes fund education. This allows rural districts to hire good teachers also. Before the courts forced the state to fund basic education, the rural districts could afford only new teachers. The experienced teachers moved into town and more money. We do have a levy system which originally allowed towns to further fund education beyond basics. Unfortunately, some basic ed needs are now underfunded by the state so levies have become required sources of money.
Smacks of Socialism.
Each students should have a base value . And ech community should support schools in which they want. Thus each school will at least have a base value based upon the population of the school
This is a difficult question. I agree with Harry that funding education through local property taxes is not a satisfactory method. I have lived in many different income level neighborhoods and seen first hand the way this harms the educational process. It also opens doors for much in-fighting and blaming as well as the "my money is going where?" syndrome.

A national tax is an interesting idea and I look forward to further conversation on this topic.
Equity of funds should be equal funding per-student at the state level, this will allow each state to control of their funds and negate some of the cost of living expenses across the nation. The federal government may collect this in any fashion they choose, but the Federal government should require states, if they want federal funds, to ensure that each district is receiving same per student rate and no other funding would be allowed unless properly allocated by the state with the same terms.

We as educators should not figure out how they get the money. If there is need for more funds is not the question. That is not the area we have experience in. It is about the impact equity in education will have on the students. We have experience of the effects monies have on the students and the unequal of allocation per student occurs within states across the districts. We as educators should remain in our expertise. Hopefully it will be stated that we believe each student is worth the same financially no matter were we live.

I do wonder if there should be more money sent to poor areas of the nation. This in it self may iron it self out if they were equal at first then reviewed later. This is still a thought that is working around in my mind.
I agree with you, but am thinking that students receiving additional interventions (ELL, students with IEPs) need additional funding.
Definitely.
1. Give money directly to the child who is working hard to educate herself or himself. Do not give it to an intermediary agency of any kind, but establish for each child, a financial record into which they can make deposits by learning and achieving. They can then use the fund for any purpose they choose, including college or starting a small business, etc. when they turn 21.

2. I'm no expert in tax law, but why not have a national tuition and national teacher salary "floor" based on a national tax system. Then local community's can do more if they want to? I know that this does not address deep-seated societal inequities; I believe that these cannot be addressed by education alone. BUT, we could ensure that every community has great teachers if the "floor" was an adequate living in any US community. The floor could be cost-adjusted to the local SES conditions based on U.S. Census data on income and basic costs. The U.S. should look at how South Korea does it.
#2 sounds good, until you realize that $40k is a great salary in rural Kansas, but a horrible one in Manhattan or San Francisco. If implemented, #2 would have to be indexed to some measure of the cost of living in an area, not a single number.
Yep, I agree. There should be a way to index it; that is what I was trying to say with the "cost-adjusted to local conditions" phrase.
Get rid of as much upper management expense as possible. Get the money to the student through the teacher. Everything else is simply a waste of time.

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