Funding for schools in the United States is very complex. This is partly due to how school funding is distributed. School funding comes from a variety of federal, state, and city money pools. Therefore, major educational issues center on curriculum and control. About 46 percent of public spending on elementary and secondary schools is derived from local government budgets. One reason for the large disparity in spending comes from the size of the local tax base.
Disproportionate funding for public schools can be seen between states and within urban, suburban and rural areas. Public schools located within affluent areas clearly have more to offer academically and have better infrastructures while public classrooms in poorer neighborhoods or rural areas may have to endure learning an outdated curriculum in overcrowded classrooms within crumbling buildings. It is no surprise, then, that students who attend public schools with inadequate books and other basic school supplies drop out of the eduction system at an astounding rate.
Expenditures on schooling are also greatly influenced by the size of their public sectors, by the cost of living, the district involved, the real estate market and teacher salaries. Even when the numbers are adjusted to reflect regional pay and other related costs, there is still a large gap between state spending. Since the onset of the recession, states have made deep budget cuts to school funding, especially over the last year.
Average spending per pupil is another blaring issue that reflects a major gap in how funds are distributed in different parts of the country. For example, the states that spend the highest per pupil ($17,045) came from the D.C area, New Jersey, New York, Connecticut and Alaska. In contrast, states that only spent $7,506 per student were Tennessee, Oklahoma, Arizona,Utah and Idaho. Most states in the West, however, have an average expenditure of a little under 10,000 per pupil while the average expenditure per pupil in the South is $9,184. There is even a further discrepancy of school funding based on location or district as mentioned earilier. To illustrate, low-income districts are now challenging the existing system of school funding in court.
The complex issues facing the U.S. public school system will not be easily resolved. Restructuring the Department of Education and the utilization of school vouchers must be fitted in any future proposals to help underfunded schools receive the money they need to provide a quality education for children in any district or state.
With all of the statitistics cited in numerous places regarding school funding in America, it should move those in higher places to take action. Low-income children frequently rank lower in test scores, graduation rates, college enrollment and other academic acheivements than their peers. So one important question still remains: How can America compete academically with other countries around the world if they don’t invest enough money in many of their schools nationwide? This is a question that all of us need to reflect on deeply.