Overseeing Distribution of State Dollars to All of the Schools in a State
The importance of education is very well-known to everyone. It is often dubbed the passport for the future, opening up gateways of new opportunities for those that attain it. Proper Primary or High School education is the right of every American citizen, irrespective of their gender, race, religion, disability or economic condition. However, it is a long standing fact that there have been funding disparities existing in the country between schools attended by children of color, and that of low income households to those attended by well off, white kids. It is the duty of the federal government to provide equitable funding to all publics schools in order to provide children from all corners of the society with a level playing field to compete in the global employment market. Almost half of the funding in public schools in the United States comes from local property taxes, generating differences between funding received by public schools located in wealthy and impoverished areas (Moser & Rubenstein, 2002).
The level of the funds allocated to each public school district determines the resources that the school can afford. This include the conditions of the school buildings and property, the quality and experience of teachers employed, the working conditions being provided to these teachers, the type of education syllabus and school facilities enjoyed by the students of the schools etc. If these are not on equal grounds with rest of the States in America, then it will be difficult for the kids attending schools located in lower income districts to rise above, and have an equal chance of competing with their peers attending public schools in high income areas.
In order to combat this disparity, the United States government wrote the No Child Left Behind Act in 2001 (Cerf, 2012), which launched the rejuvenation of Elementary and Secondary school education in the United States, particularly focusing on the quality of education and further aid being provided to disadvantaged children. The Act has been in place for over a decade now, and yet there still exists states will elementary and high schools being given a below average rating in terms of the quality of education provided and resources allocated by the United States government (Brown, 2007). It can be seen that low salary districts, which cater to students with the most need of a proper education, are the ones that hire teachers with lower credentials and qualifications, often many of which are required to teach outside of their respective fields (Adamson & Darling-Hammond, 2012). This leads to poorer results on behalf of the students as the teacher himself/herself is unfamiliar with the subject they have been handed down to teach. These states include Louisiana, Illinois, and North Carolina (Center, 2012). Some of the well funded states include New Jersey, Connecticut, Massachusetts, Iowa and Wyoming.
The state of New Jersey was ranked at the second position on in level of funds invested per pupil in a given state school in the year 2007; however, it fell to the number 4 position in the years 2008 and 2009 with $16,101, $16,565, and $16,817 respectively invested per pupil per state school. New Jersey falls in the category that the government designated as a “progressive” state, i.e., there is a progressive funding system applied in the state by the local government. In a progressive funding system, there are more funds allocated to schools located in poor districts as opposed to better off ones.
The allocation of funds to each state for distribution into its public schools depends on a few major factors. These factors include student poverty levels, population density, economies of scale, regional wage variation, and the interplay between population density and economies of scale. These factors influence the allocation of state and local revenue per pupil in a given state school. The funds can be distributed amongst the schools on the basis of either Average Daily Membership (ADM) or on Average Daily Attendance (ADA). The ADM can be explained as the method employed by the state to calculate the average number of pupils being a member in a school for a given period within an academic year. This allows the state to allocate the funds appropriately on the basis of children enrolled in the schools. On the other hand, ADA can be understood as the method of calculating the average attendance rating of the students enrolled at a school for a given period of time within an academic year. This technique ensures that the funds are allocated to the state schools on the basis of attendance of pupils, while no excessively unnecessary state money is allocated incorrectly to a school that does not need that much of fund allocation. Considering both the methods whilst knowing that there is no permission to levy local taxes and only state dollars are available, I would use the ADA method of disbursement because using this method will allow an appropriate and almost exact amount of funds being distributed to the schools as they require, while excess can be utilized in schools that need more funding than others.
While comparing the two methods, ADM and ADA, both have their specific advantages. The ADM method is considered to be able to result in a more accurate count of the students enrolled at a school during an academic year. This method also provides a financial incentive for the schools to keep students till the end of the academic period, while there is no impact of any negative funding due to the absence of children. On the other hand, ADA can be more appropriate in scenarios when funding is tight. Moreover, the method encourages the schools to avoid the reduction of funding due to increased absence of the students. This ensures that the student turnout over the academic year is higher and the schools are provided with the incentives of allowing more pupils to attend the schools to result in increased amounts of funding.
The existence of the cost-quality relationship between the expenditure the state does on the students and the performance the students provides back as a result of the educational programs they have access to require the distribution of funds in such a manner that the results of the relationships are maximized. This equalization of the funds distributed would be made by providing funds to the schools per student using the basis of the educational programs and facilities they have access to in their schools, i.e. The more the facilities existing at a school which students are allowed to utilize, the higher the ratio of funds allocated to that particular school. This method could result in an effective equalization of fund distribution to maintain the cost-quality relationship.
The state of New Jersey includes cities and towns with various different demographic and economic differences. Some areas have better economic conditions but possess a lower population of students that go to school. It is the opposite for the cities that have lower economic conditions. Based on these factors, I would expect the revenue to stay stable and expenditure to fall in areas that have lower population of school going children, as these areas are economically sound as well. Such areas would receive lesser funding, and thus expenditure would be lower than the school districts that receive higher funding, where revenue could be lesser and expenditures high. Such distribution changes would be beneficial for the state as a whole.
Adamson, F., & Darling-Hammond, L. (2012). Funding Disparities and the Inequitable Distribution of Teachers: Evaluating Sources and Solutions. Education policy analysis archives (Vol.20, No.17) .
Brown, C.A. (2007). Are America’s Poorest Children Receiving Their Share of Federal Education Funds? School-Level Title I Funding in New York, Los Angeles, and Chicago. JOURNAL of EDUCATION FINANCE (Vol.33, No.2), 130-146.
Center, E.L. (2012). Executive Summary. Retrieved from School Funding Fairness: http://www.schoolfundingfairness.org/executivesummary.htm
Cerf, C.D. (2012). EDUCATION FUNDING REPORT. Department of Education.
Moser, M., & Rubenstein, R. (2002). The Equality of Public School District Funding in the United States: A National Status Report. Public Administration Review (Vol.62, No.1), 63-72.
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