I was recently struck by one of the political cartoons in the SacramentoBee newspaper, which presented an image comparison of drinking fountains in two schools. It quickly reminded me of the racist Jim Crow laws from the 1880s-1960s and how racial segregation existed almost everywhere in the United States at that time. However, I realize that this cartoon doesn’t portray the concept of racial segregation with a Jim Crow joke, but it makes a commentary on social segregation among public schools in the United States today.
I slowly realized that all American public schools are not the same due to funding. The huge difference exists in the public school system because their funding is associated with local property taxes. If a school is located in an affluent area with wealthier residents who pay high property taxes, schools will receive more funding (School Funding 1). Do you think this system is fair? If I ask affluent parents, they probably would answer that they pay high property taxes, so their money should go straight to nourish public schools in their areas.
Meanwhile, if I were to ask parents in low socioeconomic areas, they would say that funds should be distributed from the state and not by the county, which would help in reducing the inequality between schools. Although sharing funds is not fair for many affluent people who pay more taxes, we should encourage state governments to aid the poorer schools more because it helps to reduce poverty and prevent crimes in lower income neighborhoods. The first reason that poorer schools should get more funds is to reduce poverty.
People in low-income areas might not get the direct effect from school funding, but in the future, their kids will be benefited greatly. For those in the low income bracket, education can be a legitimate way to help them climb out of poverty. However, in reality, most of these poorer schools today are still not treated equally as their richer counterparts. Lisa Black, Chicago Tribune reporter reviewed the vast difference between two public schools in the Chicago area to illustrate this point.
The first school, Taft Elementary School in Lockport can’t offer students any arts, language or technology classes because of the limited budget available. Meanwhile, Rondout Elementary School, near Lake Forest, offers language programs such as Spanish in every grade including kindergarten. Most students use laptops in the class, and they can enjoy band and chorus classes. They can choose to study various art, drama and dance as well (Black 1). If poor children had the same opportunity as their counterparts, imagine the growth it could represent to them educational.
If they enjoyed studying, they could move on to obtain higher education by attending to colleges, meaning better-paying jobs. Therefore, funds should be available for all people. Young minds deserve the opportunity to choose the programs that they want to study. They should be able to study art and any other subject, as they desire to, regardless of how much property tax their parents pay. In general, I believe that a good education is the foundation that can pave the way to a better quality of life.
Aside from reducing poverty, preventing crimes is another reason that poorer schools should receive more funds. Crimes in lower income areas derive from being unable to sustain a decent living. These types of crimes can be directly connected to a lack of education and opportunity. Geoffrey Wodtke, a sociologist at the University of Michigan, mentions in his article that kids in poor neighborhood have less chance to graduate from high school (Wodtke 1). He also states:
Poor neighborhoods are isolated and racially segregated, with none of the quality schools, day care, grocery stores, pharmacies, and parks that can help promote a child’s development and academic achievement; and they are disproportionately smoggy, crime-ridden and dilapidated. All of these factors, the researchers note, have been linked to poor performance in school, often culminating in dropouts. (1) Wodtke claims that poor neighborhoods affect school performance, and this can impact a child’s learning directly.
Some children quit the schools because they have no interest in schooling. Dropping out is and having no high school diploma will limit a job opportunities. When they are not qualified for many jobs, they can’t escape the pitfalls of poverty. Therefore, some of them end up finding illegal ways to make money while others affiliate themselves with gangs (Wodtke 2). This is the reason why school is so important, because it is a good place to start children on equal footing educationally with the chance to better themselves in the future.
However, schools in low-income areas still need more funds to afford having a variety of programs such as language, art and sports. Schools also need to be able to hire and retain qualified teachers. Moreover, every school should be able to afford sport programs, which is a good physical outlet for youthful energy and encourages good health and teamwork. Art programs should also be available because they provide an outlet to express creativity. A wider variety of activities and educational alternatives can create brighter and more promising futures if given the opportunities.
These children can become doctors, football players or artists in the future as long as they get a fair amount of support from the beginning. It’s difficult to change the living environment in poorer neighborhoods, but we can start by improving the school system to reshape the future of that community. Some people think that pouring money into poor schools is wasteful. They believe the reason schools become poorly performing ones is because they are full of under-achieving students who lack interest in the curriculum. Even if some schools get more funds, it will not change anything.
It’s like treating symptoms, but not starting at the root of the problem. They believe that the government should provide more funding to schools with higher achieving students who potentially will become successful contributing members of the community. In other words, the state government should invest in the right schools and students. However, I believe this thought to be completely wrong. People who believe this will never know the potential of students in lower-income schools unless they are given a fair and equal opportunity to succeed.
If poorer schools receive more funding, they will be able to provide better facilities and a stronger variety in the curriculum. These factors would increase the chances that we see more students grow into productive and successful adults despite coming from lower class surroundings. When every school has the same resources and variety of programs available to their youths, political cartoons like this one will be a thing of the past because the educational system’s inequalities will no longer be a joke.
We should call for action on the funding to reform poorer schools because education can help in reducing poverty and crimes in these neighborhoods. Although affluent parents who work harder and pay more property taxes might oppose an idea of distributed funding to poor schools, they should think about economic consequences. If a gap between rich schools and poor schools is still expanding, how can the children of today become responsible adults in the future?
If this country is the land of freedom and opportunity for everyone, I should hope that schools would be the first place to start by giving equal opportunities to all children. Poorer schools should receive equal opportunities like those of the children in wealthier communities. Schools should be a sacred place where all children of any social standing are afforded the same opportunities of unlimited educational growth. The more we see children shine in their youth, the more likely they will rise up to become successful in the future and this will help strengthen the future of the United States’ socially and economically.