There are many past and rising issues involving public school finance. The public schools system is funded through federal, state and local taxes. Each state has different formulas to distribute funding from state and local taxes. Federal funding does contribute to the rising cost of education for each state. State and local taxes is allocated to cover the majority of educational costs. Student achievement depends upon the available funding allotted to each district. This author will attempt to discuss equalization of federal, state and local funding. Also, this author will attempt to describe fair, equitable and adequate tax systems. Federal, state and local funding are all important to the funding formula for public education in Texas. A large chunk of funding for Texas schools comes from sales tax. Every item that is purchased, with the exception of food, has a sales tax added on.
Ultimately, all consumers contribute to the public education system. Every other week in the news, there are stories covering the rising costs of oil and gas. Every time we fill our gas tanks, we are paying taxes that go towards local funding of education. Many districts in Texas are filled with low economic status students, and are Title I campuses. Title I campuses provide free and reduced breakfast and lunch for students. These free and reduced meals are provided each school day. Title I campuses in Texas receive federal funding for the free and reduced lunch program. Each parent, every school year, is encouraged to complete paperwork for each student to qualify for the program. Throughout the history of public education the big question has been, “How can the funding of public education be equal and equitable?”
Each state receives federal funding with the intent of the federal government to provide equal and equitable education to all children. The federal funding received by each state is allocated towards the basic necessities that are needed for education. Additional funding is needed for the many resources and developmental trainings that are also needed to provide adequate education. This is when state and local funding are important and added to the equation. This is also the reason given by many school districts on the importance of increasing state and local taxes. Each year school districts receive reports on accountability from the state. With these reports school boards have decisions to make. These decisions all deal with what is needed to improve and increase accountability.
In turn, discussions of where funding should be allocated and how to generate more funding. To increase local taxes would be a source of increased funding. Then, parents as well as community members would have to vote on the decision to increase taxes. Usually, members of the community are not eager to support a vote of increased taxes. The rising cost of education is not something that general community members are concerned with. There are also parents of students in the public education system that are not aware of the increasing cost of quality education. The task of increasing the funding for public education becomes harder each school year. One alternative to increasing taxes to gain more educational funding would be to enlist the support of local and state corporations. Local corporations could be included when sponsoring extracurricular school events.
These extracurricular events should not be designated to only sporting events. Corporate support should be solicited to sponsor fine arts, sporting, community as well as back to school events. Corporations could use these opportunities as advertising and a source of generating revenue. In turn, these corporations would have relative concern for the success of the district’s students. This relationship would also generate funds to support equitable and adequate public education. There have been attempts made to change the way education in Texas is funded. Previous proposals included increasing sales tax instead of including property taxes. This proposal was rejected because citizens desire more local control.
While this proposal would hand over more control of public education to the state. As stated by Lavine (2007), by allowing the state to provide more funding, the link between local taxpayers and public schools would be broken. Community members have more stake in school districts when their tax monies fund local schools. A fair, equitable and adequate tax system would share the wealth of local taxes. Is it possible to have a fair distribution of funding for public education? Each year when income taxes are filed and people pay taxes on wages earned and property owned. There is a standard tax bracket that is followed to determine the amount of taxes paid by each citizen. Public education funding and our students would benefit from a similar bracket. The bracket should be utilized by the state.
The districts with the higher numbers of economically disadvantaged students should receive more funding from the state. This method would provide equal funding from the state. Local funding would allow for continued support from community members and businesses. Another alternative method of generating funds for education would be to re-establish district zones. Some may argue that in re-establishing district lines, some districts may lose funding while others would gain. The re-establishment of lines would support the equality of education that is described in No Child Left Behind. As stated by McCown (2006), consolidating smaller districts is not the problem but more financially supported, larger districts should be re-zoned. By re-establishing district lines, the wealth and funding for public education would be shared. If federal, state and local funding was equal for every district; would that be equal and fair funding for education? Conclusion
Our public school system in Texas is operated through the use of federal, state and local funding. Local funding is generated from property taxes levied from commercial and public property. Educational funding from the state is generated from taxes such as oil, gas and also sales taxes. Federal funding is specifically allocated towards free and reduced breakfast and lunch programs, bilingual and special education and also technology. The education system of today requires more funding than what was needed fifty years ago. The funding generated from federal, state and local governments is not adequate enough to support the changing system of education.
The idea that public education I both equitable and adequate is becoming harder to believe. There is a need to increase local funding but community members are not in support of tax increase. We need to enlist the use of alternative methods to generate funds for public education. Children of Texas depend on the public education system to provide them with opportunities to create better futures and successful citizens. Every child should have access to equitable and adequate education. As described by Thompson (1972), adult success is not the difference, but improving a child’s life for the better.
McCown, F. Scott., 2006. The Texas public education challenge Texas trilogy on public education and taxes, Center for Public Policy Priorities. Thompson, Marjorie., 1972. Paying for our schools: is there a better way,
National Center for Educational Communication. Lavine, Dick, 2007. Replacing property taxes with sales taxes would be bad for Texas businesses, families and public education. Center for Public Policy Priorities.