University of Phoenix
June 14, 2010
School Finance Issue Paper
There is a popular myth that government sponsored public education is cost free to students, families and teachers (Darden, 2007). The economic crisis has resulted in a wave of reduced funding sources for school districts around the country. As state and city budgets have been slashed, the consequences for districts are dire (Trainor, 2010). Debates about how to improve public education in America often focus on whether government should spend more on education. Federal and state policy makers proposing new education programs often base their arguments on the need to provide more resources to improve opportunities for students (Lips at el., 2008). The increasing number of budget cuts have left teachers, administrators, families footing the bill for classroom materials. The challenge has become to provide essential school supplies and classroom materials despite millions in budget cuts. Many districts has raised dozen of school fees for various students activities and added many items to school supply lists every year (Dyrli, 2008). In recent years there has been a great interest in the effect of school resources on academic achievement ( Froese, 1997). Answering whether spending more on public education improves academic achievement begins with establishing how much the United States spends on education. In 2007, the federal government spent $71.7 billion on elementary and secondary education programs. These funds were spent by 13 federal departments ad multiple agencies. The Department of Education spent $39.2 billion on K-12 education. The largest programs in the Department of Educations budget were education for the disadvantaged and special education (Lips at el., 2008). The monies dedicated to states from the federal government is earmarked for certain programs. Allotted monies for school resources do not always equate to materials for classroom instruction. Many people believe that lack of funding is a problem in public education, but historical trends show that American spending on public education is at an all-time high (Lips at el., 2008). Acknowledging that education excellence cost money, the vast majority of school districts have a tough time keeping pace. Schools are tempting to use several solutions to combat the budget crisis. Schools are collecting fees from parents, they can pretend not to notice as teachers quietly bear the expenses as an act of caring, or solicit or accept dollars that come from third-party sources (Darden, 2007).
Academic researchers have sought to answer the question of whether education expenditures are correlated with student performance. However, there is a lack of consistent evidence on whether education expenditures are related to academic achievement. Despite the lack of consistent finding, leading researchers in the area acknowledge that any effect of per-pupil expenditures on academic outcomes depends on how money is spent, not how much money is spent (Lips at. el., 2008). Existing evidence indicates that the typical school system today do not use resources well at least if promoting students achievement is the purpose. The high and increasing percentage of funding is allocated to non-classroom expenditures is evidence of the need to improve resource allocation in the nation’s public schools. According to the National Center for Public Education Statistics, only fifty two percent of public education expenditures are spent on instruction. This percentage has slowly been decreasing over recent decades (Lips at. el., 2008). One problem school districts are facing is shrinking enrollment. These school districts are left with vacant buildings and hundreds of thousands of dollars tied up in desk, chairs, office supplies and equipment, computers and textbooks that may eventually find their way to the dump. At the same time,...