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Thread: Funding Education

  1. #1
    Member Claudius the God's Avatar
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    Funding Education

    The United States funds education in two distinct ways, local taxation and federal subsidies. Of the two, local taxation accounts for the majority of the dollars needed to fund k-12. Federal dollars on average fund only 14% of the cost of public schools in these age groups. That means state and local taxes have to cover the remainder. Property taxes contribute 29%, state and local taxes the remaining 57%. The Department of Education provides the funding from the federal coffers. Depending upon the policy and administration in office, these policies can attempt to coerce states to teach certain courses or curriculum to certain federal standards in order to receive the subsidy. If a state decided not to accept federal funding, they can but hardly any state does, they all need the federal money. Every state budget is dominated by two items, education and police/fire/prisons. Most states are bound by their constitutions to provide adequate education to every single child. The courts decide if the state is fulfilling this mandate. State budgets are determined by tax revenues, they cannot print money to fund themselves. Some have the option of floating bonds to fund expenditures. Some do not allow it. In essence, this forces states to make choices about taxation and education/police. Most red states try to cut taxes as much as possible. They then have to choose what to cut when the inevitable tax shortfall occurs. As we have seen in many red states recently, this usually means schools get cut and salaries of teachers are the big expense.

    When schools rely upon property taxes to fund themselves it is not hard to grasp that richer districts will get more money than poorer ones. This inequality of funding creates a school system that perpetuates class divides starting from kindergarten. It is very hard to compete in this world when your educational opportunities from kindergarten on are diminished relative to other school systems solely due to the wealth of that district. Is it any wonder our poorest areas also have the worse schools? Ever been to a public school in a rich area and then went across town to the ghetto? Its pretty obvious.

    So how can we fix this mess? First, let us try to agree on desired outcomes. Do we not all want every single child anywhere in America to have the same quality of education as any other child? Is this not a worthy goal of both the left and right? If you object, then can we at least agree that every child should have a minimum level of public support that does not create a lifelong impediment to being an educated adult at age 18?

    Many other countries faced this problem and they decided to fund all education nationally. Imagine if we decided to add an amendment guaranteeing a good education for every child based upon federal support of 100% of the cost of k-12. This would free up local communities to lower property taxes or divert them to other uses such as infrastructure. It might mean a slight increase in our federal taxes but perhaps we could make this a separate tax item like the Medicare tax. This tax would apply to all incomes with no upper limit or cap. This would then be granted to each state and child equally across the board. Is this not something all of us could see as a good way to fix this mess we are in today?
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  2. #2
    Veteran Member bajisima's Avatar
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    Interesting post. As someone who lives in a state with no sales or income tax, our schools are paid for by property taxes and they are high. New England in general is beginning to see massive declines in education scores as we are the oldest part of the country. Which makes us have a double whammy, not just seniors who dont want their property taxes raised but also tons of private schools and boarding schools are here. In theory national funding makes sense, but I dont know if that would fly nationally especially in light of the massive increase in charter schooling and home schooling and an aging society.

  3. #3
    Member Claudius the God's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by bajisima View Post
    Interesting post. As someone who lives in a state with no sales or income tax, our schools are paid for by property taxes and they are high. New England in general is beginning to see massive declines in education scores as we are the oldest part of the country. Which makes us have a double whammy, not just seniors who dont want their property taxes raised but also tons of private schools and boarding schools are here. In theory national funding makes sense, but I dont know if that would fly nationally especially in light of the massive increase in charter schooling and home schooling and an aging society.
    I agree with you in regards to the politics of it but let us say forget the politics, what is the best solution? In any other area of our lives when problems arise among leaders they first state a goal and then determine the best way to achieve it. I have never been in any business meeting where left and right attitudes determined possible outcomes. When people say they want government to act more like a business, this is what I hope we listen to and enact. There is no reason why we allow these national problems to be unsolved year after year.

  4. #4
    Radical Centrist BigLeRoy's Avatar
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    It is not just a rich part of town vs poor part of town divide. Increasingly, especially in the Western states, it is an urban/rural divide. The state of Colorado, for example, has a rural teacher shortage that is approaching catastrophic levels. Colorado has very low teacher salaries to begin with. The salaries on offer in the rural areas of the state are, well, nothing less than insulting. You can make more money working in a fast food restaurant.
    Last edited by BigLeRoy; 24th April 2018 at 06:14 PM.
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  5. #5
    Thought Provocateur NightSwimmer's Avatar
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    We certainly need to do this, but it would mean a cut in our defense budget, and some folks are very scared.
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  6. #6
    Anarquistador StanStill's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by NightSwimmer View Post
    We certainly need to do this, but it would mean a cut in our defense budget, and some folks are very scared.
    Also, if poor kids got the same schools and opportunities, then the upper middle class kids would be that much less special. Its almost like we’d be letting the poor kids steal their specialness. Equality would be an unfair advantage for poor kids.
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  7. #7
    Veteran Member bajisima's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by BigLeRoy View Post
    It is not just a rich part of town vs poor part of town divide. Increasingly, especially in the Western states, it is an urban/rural divide. The state of Colorado, for example, has a rural teacher shortage that is approaching catastrophic levels. Colorado has very low teacher salaries to begin with. The salaries on offer in the rural areas of the state are, well, nothing less than insulting. You can make more money working in a fast food restaurant.
    Same here we are beginning to see all over New England. Now the rural families want vouchers to get their kids out to better schools, because they cant afford any tax increases to pay for education as they are poor. Now our legislature is offering money using property taxes to send them to either other public schools or private ones. Charter schools are exploding around here.

    "The bill, Senate Bill 193, would create a voucher-like system, with families who pull their children from public school able to claim upward of $3,500 in state money for an education savings account to spend on private education or home schooling."

    School choice bill that would send public money to private schools clears N.H. House

  8. #8
    Member Claudius the God's Avatar
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    The urban/rural divide is about resources and to rural folks it seems as if urban folks get all the dough. In truth, rural America is subsidized heavily but due to the loss of economic options in rural America, they are losing ground. It costs more to support equal services in rural America than it does in urban America. There is no national policy addressing these issues that all of us can grasp and understand. It exists in silos with no real effort placed to connect them all into one national plan or policy.
    Thanks from BigLeRoy and bajisima

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