Sample Essay on Government Funding of Public Schools

Government Funding of Public Schools

Public schools were among the top recipients of state and local funding accounting for thereabouts of one-fifth of the total government spending as of 1996 (Moser and Rubenstein 63). While the governments continue to spend billions in public schools, more is still needed in equal distribution of the resources given the benefits that such funding have on education, particularly to the needy, even as detractors of public school funding advocate for merit-based and not need-based funding of public schools.

Public schools have not always been state funded, as is the case today. The private sector had been actively involved in education of children before the establishment of tax-supported public schools (Stoddard 172). The state began tax supporting public primary schools in the 1850s and even during this time, parents were expected to pay tuition charges (rate bills), which accounted for 20 percent of the public school funds (Stoddard 172). In the mid-19th century however, laws were established to expand education, funding and banning of payment of private fees to public schools (Stoddard 172). This has continued in the 21st century where laws such as the 2002 No Child Left BehindAct and the Elementary and Secondary Education Act have continued to expand funding, access and standards of public education in the United States(Westchester County Business Journal 17). The Elementary and Secondary Education Act alone was expected to reach $1 billion in 2002 in funding towards public schools (Westchester County Business Journal 17).

Whether state-needy or non-needy funding, financial aid to public schools have a huge impact on the enrollment, the standards and quality of education in public schools. With a dispensation of close more than $2.7 billion, from its inception in 1993, the Georgia HOPE (Helping Outstanding Pupils Educationally) program has aided more than 850,000 student, and by itself contributed to a six percent increase in college enrollment (Singel, Glen & Curs 1). The increased enrollment because of the funding increases the chances of Georgian students attending college by 7 to 9 percent in comparison with other surrounding southern states (Singel, Glen & Curs 1). This indeed accentuates the significance of public school funding to access and improvement of the standards of public education.

The reliance on state funds for public schools is however not absent of detractors. Most of these consider this a risky approach to funding education in light of the 2000-2001 financial crisis (Reschovsky 398), and by extension the recent 2007-2009 credit crunch. The events of the two financial crises made governments fall short of their budgetary estimates, thereby cutting funding to schools, which adversely affect the school system. Another problem in funding for public schools through state governments is the disparity in property wealth across different localities, and therefore difference in the amount of revenue collected by local governments, and consequently disparity in funding to schools (Moser and Rubenstein 64). The result of such disparities is usually better education standards in some localities, while others remain disadvantaged due to the disparities (Moser and Rubenstein 64).

It is however noteworthy to state that some states and local governments have devised ways of alleviating the inequalities in funding through intergovernmental grant schemes (Moser & Rubenstein 64).The E-rate funding has specifically been instrumental in opening access to technology to low-income and high-minority schools significantly reducing the digital divide between these schools and the high-income and low minority schools from nine students per computer to 4.2 students per computer (Westchester County Business Journal 17). Other schemes such as the HOPE program in Georgia also go a long way in reducing this disparity, especially for schools within poor districts. Additionally, there are always rules that limit huge disparities among schools within the same district, a measure that has improved equity in school funding within the same district in states such as Kansas, Michigan and Georgia among others (Moser and Rubenstein 64).

Therefore although there remains inequalities in funding between schools in same districts and between schools with high-income and low-minority and low-income and high-minority, state programs, legislations and initiatives are working towards alleviating these discrepancies. State, federal and local authority funding continue to be instrumental in expanding public education, improving its quality, opening access to the education to more students, especially from the poor, and in doing so raising social education levels as well as helping in the realization of external benefits (Stoddard 172).

State, federal and local government spending on public schools has been improving since 1850. By banning private fees to schools and passing laws geared towards funding and opening access to education in public schools, the governments have indeed shown the necessity of education. Although equality in funding, and therefore the quality of education is still wanting, measures have been put in place to eradicate these inequalities, especially within school districts to ensure that both the high and low income, as well as minority and majority groups get the same quality of education in public schools.

Annotated Bibliography

“Federal, State Funding Boost Technology in Public Schools.” Westchester County Business Journal, 2002: 17

The article informs on the improved access to public schools following federal and state efforts to improve technology and access in public schools. The article includes empirical figures on the rates of improvement and access to technology in addition to means of improving technology access and use for both students and teachers.

Moser, Michele & Rubenstein, Ross. “The Equality of Public School District Funding in the United States: a National Status Report.” Public Administration Review, 62.1(2002): 63-72

This article traces the status of distribution of education funds from state governments to school districts between 1992 and 1995. The article additionally presents ranking of the states’ equality distribution of funds across the districts, and therefore exploring factors underlying the equality levels and changes over the years.

Reschovsky, Andrew. “The Impact of State Government Fiscal Crises on the Funding of Public Schools.”National Tax Association Proceedings: 96th Annual Conference on Taxation, (n.d.):397-404

Reschovsky’s article details the impact of the decreased state funding to public schools following the 2001 recession. The article includes percentage changes in funding between 2002 and 2004 across all states with graphic illustrations, as well as the response of the schools to decreased state funding.

Singel, Larry, D., Jr., Glen, R. Waddell & Curs, Bradley, R. “Hope for the Pell?Institutional Effects in the Intersection of Merit-Based and Need-Based Aid.”Southern Economic Journal, 73.1(2006):79-99

This article assesses the effect of grants on school enrolment particularly for needy students. It looks at the effect of both need-based and merit-based grants. The article includes empirical data analysis of Pell and Non-Pell enrollments, particularly in relation to the Georgia HOPE grant program.

Stoddard, Christiana. “Why did Education Become Publicly Funded? Evidence from the Nineteenth-Century Growth of Public Primary Schooling in the United States.”The Journal of Economic History, 69.1(2009):172-201

This article traces the origin of state funding for public schools, especially in the developed world. It theorizes the explanation of the state funding of public schools, and using tables and graphs illustrates the effect of state funding of public schools to mean and median wealth, attendance and external benefits of education.

Works Cited

“Federal, State Funding Boost Technology in Public Schools.” Westchester County Business Journal, 2002: 17

Moser, Michele & Rubenstein, Ross. “The Equality of Public School District Funding in the United States: a National Status Report.” Public Administration Review, 62.1(2002): 63-72

Reschovsky, Andrew. “The Impact of State Government Fiscal Crises on the Funding of Public Schools.”National Tax Association Proceedings: 96th Annual Conference on Taxation, (n.d.):397-404

Singel, Larry, D., Jr., Glen, R. Waddell & Curs, Bradley, R. “Hope for the Pell?Institutional Effects in the Intersection of Merit-Based and Need-Based Aid.”Southern Economic Journal, 73.1(2006):79-99

Stoddard, Christiana. “Why did Education Become Publicly Funded? Evidence from the Nineteenth-Century Growth of Public Primary Schooling in the United States.”The Journal of Economic History, 69.1(2009):172-201