School Funding

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Funding Schools Appropriately
You're a ninth grader at a school in Philadelphia. The neighborhood is poor, even if not all of the students are. Your school has very little money for things like computers or technology. You walk into second period one day, sit down, and discover that the floor next to your desk is damp. The teacher explains that there is a leak in the roof, and that the school can't afford to fix it. The school can't afford to fix the leak or buy computers because it is inadequately funded. So the government kindly lends your school the money to not only fix the leak, but buy computers. But does that necessarily motivate you to improve your grades? Do you suddenly decide to do your homework because the leak is fixed? Probably not. The government sees that your grades remained the same, and two years later, when our school needs to hire more teachers and make the classes smaller, the government denies the school that money. They say that since money didn't help your grades last time, why should it help you now?

But the truth is that smaller classes and better teachers do improve student achievement. Members of our government claim that giving more money to schools will not make a difference, but the government funding for schools needs to be used effectively to see a change in student performance. (Connell)

The reason that some schools can't do things like buy computers and maintain their buildings to begin with is because the school funding system is so ineffective. The US government pays only 7% of all school money, and the rest is up to the states and the tax payers. Whatever money the states won't pay is paid as school tax, part of your property taxes, which are higher or lower depending on how much your home is worth. But this means that schools in poor neighborhoods get little money while wealthy schools, like ours, get nearly all they need. You don't see any leaky roofs in our school.

Even if the state pays a lot of money, that still doesn't mean that the schools are well funded. In Hawaii, there is only one school district, and the state pays for nearly all of that district's funding. Only 2% comes from property tax, and the rest comes out of income tax. But think about the industry in Hawaii- farming and tourism, two low income industries. 73% of Hawaii's schools report a need for expensive building repair that they can't afford on their own, and there is only one computer for every sixteen students. Even funded evenly by the state, Hawaii's schools are still under funded, and it has been predicted that by 2010, Hawaii will need 760 new classrooms. (National Education Association.) Where will this money come from? It is up to the national government to make the difference in school funding.

Take Pennsylvania for example. The Philadelphia school district is near bankruptcy. The debate goes on over whether to privatize the schools or not. If the schools are privatized, it means that a wealthy company will take over the district and fund it. The only problem with this is that the company now has the power to control everything in the district, including teacher salary, equipment, and even curriculum. Now if you were a business owner looking to make money, and not looking to educate children, you would most likely chose to change the curriculum to fit your own financial ambitions. It would be completely within the limits of the law for the company that owned these schools to "dumb down" the curriculum in order to save money, thus lowering the level of education received by students in Philadelphia. And what would be the first to go? Sports, Art, music, drama, and any other subject that isn't included on the standardized tests or SATs. How would you like to go to a school where there is no football team, no marching band, no cheerleading, no chorus, no trips to the State Drama Conference? That's where schools in Philadelphia are headed. (Snyder)

Compare that to my school district, just a...
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