“The way schools get funding.”

The other day, I was talking to my dad about the genre paper (which seems to be absorbing everybody’s lives) and he got stuck on “issue in education.” So he asked me if there were any issues in education I cared about and I sat there and thought about it and couldn’t come up with anything deep or profound, so I huffed and said, “The way schools get funding.”

So I explained how we watched this video in my EDUC 275 class that morning and how I wasn’t surprised that there are schools in America that are impossibly wealthy and others that are ridiculously poor. But I already knew discrepancies like this existed, distressing as it is.

Public schools are government institutions, so in order to receive funding they have to adhere to certain government mandates, and one of them is linked to standardized test scores. To my knowledge, schools that score well on standardized tests receive more funding and schools that don’t have theirs taken away. With less money, the schools can’t afford to keep as many teachers or purchase as many new resources, so the teachers are released, the catalogs tossed, and the money hoarded. And then the students do worse. More money is taken away, more teachers are cut or replaced, students scores drop further, and so on.

I take issue with this. It’s not fair that suffering schools continually lose money because their students do poorly. These are clearly the schools that need help the most! I don’t think giving every student an iPad will turn them into A+ students, but providing every student with individual textbooks and computers that don’t take ten years to load would certainly help, I think.

But the problem is more complicated than this. The government is already massively in debt, so where would the funds for these poorer schools come from? We could take the money from the wealthier, proficient schools, but why should they lose their funding –  their reward – for performing well and meeting the standards?

I don’t think we should take away standardized testing either. I think it was Matt that made the point in class the other day that standardized tests are the only way we have to evaluate students at a variety of levels on a number of subjects. Maybe they could be reformed, but I don’t think they should be discarded entirely (although “teaching to the test” should be).

That was the deepest I’d ever thought about the problem before and it was all very insightful, but I’m still at a loss for a solution. So… it’s complicated. And I didn’t even pick this for my topic!

The weirdest thing, though, was that there were people in my EDUC 275 class who didn’t know the school system was like this. I wonder… did you?


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