The education system in the United States possesses several flaws, but one of the most acute challenges public schools encounter today is funding. This proposal will focus on the financial issues in the secondary education area, specifically in American public schools. The importance of appropriate funding and its sources, allocation, and distribution dynamics are discussed to provide sufficient background for this analysis. Several solutions are proposed and critically evaluated to address these challenges, including federal budget reductions and increasing state-level taxes to drive the increase in funding availability. The counterarguments for both suggestions are presented and addressed as well. The first one contests that increasing school funds does not improve educational outcomes, while the second argues that raising taxes does not aid the educational system. Both of these arguments are subsequently analyzed and revoked. Finally, the essay ponders whether American public schools will ever have enough funding.
School Funding Importance
There are various reasons that funding schools are crucial to the educational process. In the poorest districts, shortage of physical resources and staff shortage is a considerable problem (Dobo). According to the standard test metrics, such schools are revealed to be among the lowest-performing ones in their respective states (Dobo). The current attempts to ameliorate the issue have been unsuccessful, and the educators in such schools state that the support has been largely insufficient for those who stay to perform their jobs thoroughly (Dobo). With such an environment, the disadvantaged children are severely behind their peers in terms of academic performance. Hence, the educators argue that they need the most help to achieve equity in education (Dobo). Providing the means to aid these groups requires funding to pay teachers’ salaries, purchase supplies for the classrooms, renovate the buildings where children spend nearly every day, and much more (Dobo). Hence, school funding is paramount for addressing the education crisis struggling schools go through.
School Funding Methods, Responsibility, and Percentages
The funding allocation methods are, at times challenging to evaluate thoroughly. While there is no constitutional right to equitable funding in education, some state constitutions require at least an adequate level for each student (Dobo). School funding is decided by the general assembly and the governor (Dobo). The school funding formulas differ by state, and so does their progressiveness: in many states, the finances for economically underprivileged students are not included statically in the formula (Dobo). The state government has the power to change the law. Hence, the finances set aside for low-income schools are subject to state legislators’ and governors’ caprices of shuffling priorities (Dobo). Every Student Succeeds Act requires states to break down local, state, and federal funding sources for each student (Dobo). Less than 3% of the total federal budget is spent on elementary and secondary education program funding (Barrett). Hence, the present system of financial allocation is imperfect.
The first proposed solution is to challenge the government to increase federal spending on schools, potentially at the cost of limiting another expense category. There is evidence that schools and districts with better funding can provide higher quality, broader, and more profound educational opportunities to children (Barrett). Additional finances enable critical changes like having smaller classes, additional instructional support, and early childhood education (Barrett). Having money outside the federal system renders it susceptible to budget cuts and the caprices of local politicians (Dobo). Recent proposals range from tripling Title I funding for low-income schools to limiting charter schools in favor of funding traditional public schools (Dobo). Another proposed solution for this issue is to increase taxes at the state level for more funds to be allocated to education. There is some evidence that budget cuts coupled with the inability to raise state taxes lead to failed budgets which, in turn, results in a crisis state for public schools, especially the low-income ones (Dobo). Hence, action in the opposite direction may effectively lead to educational improvements. Further, Barrett states that state reforms that put more financing into the education system enjoyed a comparatively equitable distribution, increased revenue for high-poverty schools, and improved students’ performance.
Counterargument Analysis and Sufficient Funding
However, a counterargument may be presented that increasing school funding does not improve education. First, it can be argued that the problem is not the amount but the dysfunctional system of traditional public schools in poor neighborhoods, so the money is misallocated (Dobo). Poor neighborhood schools often lack a consistent approach to addressing students’ emotional and academic needs; when coupled with high staff turnover, the problem exacerbates (Dobo). Moreover, research yields mixed results on the impact of school funding on children’s academic performance and long-term success (Dobo). For example, while nationwide spending per student increased by 23.5% over the past decade, education outcomes have not improved (Glans and Jarratt). The second counterargument that can be made is that increasing taxes does not improve the education system. Glans and Jaratt argue that increasing taxes on higher earners inhibits economic growth rather than fosters education. They provide an example of Rhode Island, which spends more money per student than neighboring states yet does not rank higher in student outcomes (Glans and Jaratt). Overall, if the taxes increase revenue and do not get channeled directly to the educational means, it is not likely to be helpful.
However, the response to the first counterargument is that without a lawsuit forcing the state to act or any additional transparency, it seems unlikely that a change in how the state allocates school funding will last. Moreover, the research supporting the statement about differential funding making no difference was outdated and unreliable (Barrett). Further, figuring out the metrics may better understand inappropriately directing funds. If a school can provide a coherent analysis of missing factors, the policymakers can know better what the money should be spent on (Dobo). Moreover, the response to the second counterargument with the suggestion of using private savings accounts instead of raising taxes is that such an approach disregards the fact that low-income families cannot afford to set aside a private fund. It is hard to tell whether the school system will ever enjoy sufficient funding. An influx of money into problematic schools would not immediately solve the educational problems in challenging districts (Dobo). However, one of the discussed challenges is the proper financial distribution. There is a chance that a comprehensive system will be able to determine a need-based approach, which prioritizes the districts that need money the most and thus establishes sufficient funding.
In conclusion, while funding alone cannot improve learning outcomes, it is a fundamental condition that makes it possible. The current situation demonstrates that current efforts are insufficient to address numerous issues that insufficient financing causes. Additional finances enable critical changes in education delivery, which subsequently improve student outcomes, especially in underprivileged families. Two proposals have been made: to cut charter schools funding and other budget categories in favor of traditional public schools. The second one proposes to increase state taxes for the same reason. The counterargument that increasing school funding does not lead to increased education quality relies on old and biased data and is therefore disproven. The second counterargument is that raising taxes does not improve the education system and may have some value, but it does not pose any reliable alternatives. Lastly, it seems possible to have sufficient finances for the public schools, but meeting this goal requires a careful distribution system.
Barrett, Kira. “The Evidence Is Clear: More Money for Schools Means Better Student Outcomes.” NEA News, 2018, Web.
Dobo, Nichole. “‘Kids Who Have Less, Need More’: The Fight over School Funding.” The Hechinger Report, 2019, Web.
Glans, Matthew, and Lennie Jarratt. More Education Funding Does Not Improve Education Outcomes. Research and Commentary, The Heartland Institute, 2020, Web.