Education: Money is the Problem & the Solution
Money seems to be the leading cause for the government’s intervening methods in school curriculum. In the world we live in, society reacts to equality or rather, the lack of, with a very delicate eye.
With a state-wide concern such as education, what one person views as “equal” for their region’s students will not necessarily mean the same to another community across the nation. The demographic each student lives within undoubtedly contributes to students’ path of education. (This could be due to income, environment, family status etc.). This will ultimately affect them for rest of their life.
Because America is a country containing such diverse environments, the governing school districts throughout the nation can only be expected to have dissimilar views about education due to their surrounding atmospheres. What’s to blame?
(Source: Education Week, U.S. Census Bureau
Credit: Alyson Hurt and Katie Park/NPR )
According to the data from NPR, the average dollar spent per student in Utah (which is about 30% less than the national average) compared to New York (approximately 30% above the national average) is beyond words of ridicule. In these circumstances, it is clear to see how “unfair” the spending is across the American school districts. This is where citizens begin to point fingers and blame the government for neglecting to enforce fair and just treatment for student’s education. The Department of Education is then led to interfere and “handle” the money crisis.
Here’s how the federal government “fixes” the issue:
Laws, such as the Elementary and Secondary Education Act of 1965, were set into motion to ensure the underprivileged get the attention they need with their education journey (Jefferson-Jenkins and Hill). This could include any type of disability a student faced physically, mentally, or socially. The ESEA was an act made to address the “war on poverty”.
(Source: U.S. Department of Education
Credit: ED Pubs, Education Publications Center)
From the graph above, ESEA funding is more than ten times the amount it was originally set in 1965.
This law then led to the No Child Left Behind act of 2001 admitted into the school system by former president, President George W. Bush (U.S. Department of Education). The new reform “affects what students are taught, the tests they take, the training of their teachers and the way money is spent on education” (GreatSchools Staff).
Later, in 2009, the Common Core State Standards Initiative was established for states to adopt into their curriculum by the National Governors Association.
The government began by simply helping fund education. Next, they slowly shifted to by pushing schools to assess student’s based on their criteria along with their funds. Later the nation was introduced to a new standard of education based on their ideas of what a student should learn. These standards are not mandated matter, however, schools are pushed to adopt them if they wished to be further funded by the government.
Last May of 2015, a law suit was driven against the U.S. Department because “the U.S. Department of Education coerced […] states into adopting Common Core academic standards and assessments by dangling grant money in front of them” (Gyan).
On the other hand, many people support the government’s intervention. For example, some of the most powerful and wealthy men like Bill Gates, Jeb Bush, and our current president Barack Obama feel that the assessment from acts such as ESEA, NCLB, and the Common Core Standards have strengthened the education of future generations (Williams).
They believe that it is good to have set standards such that students from different parts of the U.S. do not, essentially, get “left behind”. I am not disagreeing with this statement, however, I do not completely agree with.
I believe the education of American children should not be left in the hands of our federal government just because they have the power and money to do so. But that is just on lone opinion based on one perspective. The point is, no matter how much one person preaches to the choir, a decision such as the education of our future generations should not be left to a single person or group.
It should be left to the people most familiar with their surrounding, environments, and communities.
One of the leading cases that cause schools to falter is the fact that people think everyone needs to agree on one set principle for all schools to follow. What if we pushed this thought aside and leave each district to base their curriculum and systems of education on the decision by their respective state as originally stated in the Constitution?
WHERE DO WE GO
As previously stated, money is one of the ways in which the federal government has inched its way into American schools. Here’s how I propose we solve the issue for those who feel their unwelcome presence and for those regions who adore the government’s intervention.
As of now, the revenue gap throughout our nation affects the school systems more than almost any other factor. Quite often a student from one school is under-recognized while another student from a wealthier school district is found spoiled beyond measure. (Refer back to the Spending Per Pupil). I propose the nations should start addressing this issue and find a way to help support schools across the nation equally.
According to the U.S. Constitution, the responsibility to fund schools lies within the states authority and so that’s exactly I feel we should do. As of now, according to the U.S. Department of Education, schools are support as follows: “45.6 percent from state funds and 37.1 percent from local government […]The federal government’s share is 8.3 percent”.
Instead of having a single school be funded by it’s respectful locality, imagine if we moved to have the Department of Education act as a treasury for schools throughout the nation. In this case, the percent of state funds and tax-payers’ money from across the states would go into a joint fund and be dispersed through every public school in equal shares. Now, we would have the wealthy school districts and the underprivileged schools receiving the same amount of finances.
(Source: Silicon Valley
This would not be an easy solution. It would strongly depend on the cooperation of the Department of Education for obvious reason: their new requirements, but more detrimental to their current duties, this would ultimately take away a majority of the power they hold over schools.
It’s a long shot, but definitely a situation worth looking into. Why?
With this treasury idea, schools will not be pressured to accept federal “ideas” or initiatives. For example, the districts that wish to undergo state standard reforms can adopt Core Curriculum and those that do not wish to can chose to without the added pressure of receiving funds.
School curriculums and the decisions of how states wish to educate their children is left to be mandated by state officials. The power is in the people’s hands. In this case, the people of each state have the ability to vote for the officials who will run education systems how they see beneficial to their children.
What changes would you like to see?
Start paying attention to government’s involvement in public schools, and by all means, vote.
“Elementary and Secondary Education Act of 1965 – Social Welfare History Project.” Social
Welfare History Project. 2011. Web. 02 May 2016.
GreatSchools Staff. GreatKids. “What the No Child Left Behind Law Means for Your Child”.
2016. Web. 3 March 2016
“Grants: Getting Funding Without Dilution”. Silicon Valley. 25 February 2015. Web. 9 May
Gyan, J. Jr. “Federal Funds Used to Get Common Core into States, Influence Classroom
Instruction, Former U.S. Department of Education Official Testifies.” The Advocate. 28
May 2015. Web. 02 May 2016.
Hull, J. “Cutting to the Bone: How the Economic Crisis Affects Schools.” Center for Public
Education. National School Board Association. 7 Oct. 2010. Web. 02 May 2016.
Jefferson-Jenkins, C., Hawkins Hill, M. lwv.org “Role Of Federal Government In Public
Education: Historical Perspectives”. League of Women Voters. 2011. Web. 29 March
“Preparing America’s Students for Success.” Common Core State Standards Initiative.
2016. Web. 02 May 2016.
Turner, C., R. Khrais, T. Lloyd, A. Olgin, L. Isensee, B. Vevea, and D. Carsen. “Why
America’s Schools Have A Money Problem.” NPR. NPR, 18 Apr. 2016. Web. 02 May
U.S. Department of Education “Archived: 10 Fact About K-12 Education Funding.” ED.
Web. 02 May 2016.
U.S. Department of Education. “The Federal Role in Education”. 2012. Web. 30 March
Williams, J. P. “Who Is Fighting for Common Core?”. US News. 27 February Web. 2 May