Written by: Sarah Andre, Kim Aubry, Patty Battista, Dave Passero Introduction
Much attention has recently been given to the relationship between socioeconomic status and educational outcomes in lieu of the implementation of No Child Left Behind (NCLB). Areas of concern center around funding, affluent schools vs. high poverty schools, and high drop out rates. In order to address the inequalities in our education system we need to look at the current state of education within all socioeconomic classes. Only through public knowledge can informed changes be implemented to create a public education system that affords equal opportunities for all. Local, State, and Federal Funding
As a citizen of a country that is built on the principles of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness it is easy to assume that these rights give us free and guaranteed equal education. The fact is that there is not a right to an education nor is there guarantee that it is equal. The root-cause of educational inequity is complex, historically ingrained and multifaceted. The United States government was fashioned to aide those who own property, have money and possess power. James Madison wrote, in The Federalist No. 10 that: The diversity in the faculties of men, from which the rights or property originate, is not less an insuperable obstacle to a uniformity of interests. The protection of these faculties is the first object of government. From the protection of different and unequal faculties of acquiring property, the possession of different degrees and kinds of property immediately results; and from the influence of these on the sentiments and views of the respective proprietors, ensues a division of the society into different interests and parties (1787).
Madison understood that the acquisition of property or money will divide the country. Local Funding
States are traditionally responsible for financing education, but the accountability is dependent upon the systemic forces within individual districts. According to the U.S. Advisory Commission on Intergovernmental Relations, in 1995, property tax was responsible for 77 percent of local funding nationwide. Since property tax is the main source of revenue for public schooling the question arises: How does one determine property tax? According to the Advisory Commission property tax is determined by applying the local tax rate to the assessed value of ones property. As a result of the majority of public school finances being drawn from property taxes obvious disparities in district budgets occurs (Ornstein, 2006). In other words, “students who live in property-rich areas will have far more resources in their school than those who live in property-poor areas (Rayburn, 2004). State Funding
State funding for public schools is mostly derived from sales taxes and personal income taxes (Ornstein, 2006). These taxes vary from state to state and are not equal. Schools are subject to the funds that the states have provided for them. Andrew Reschovsky (1994) explains in Fiscal Equalization and School Finance that the nations rapid industrialized growth at the turn of the 20th century caused severe variations in property wealth. Sales tax is now subject to the highs and lows of the United States economy and Wall Street. If a recession occurs then the sales tax revenue will decrease and vice versa. This issue creates a problematic distribution of revenue to schools from year to year. The second major revenue source for state funding is income tax. Income tax seems to be fairly equitable, according to Reschovsky, because of its inclusion of deductions and exemptions. Federal Funding
Federal funding for public schools is a fairly new phenomena. According to Michael Heise, who published The Political Economy of Education Federalism, Title I of the Elementary and secondary Education Act focuses on the nation's poorest students, The Federal Individuals with...