School Budget Disparities

Rich/Poor Schools

“The U.S. Constitution leaves the responsibility for public K–12 education with the states,” (U.S. Department of Education, 2005).

Since the U.S. constitution leaves the funding for public education up to each individual state, there is a lot of variability in funds made available to each school.  We discussed in class how some schools had enough money to host extravagant events and hire the “best” teachers, while other schools cannot even afford textbooks for their students.  Why are there such disparities in levels of  funding for our public schools?

The Supreme Court came to the decision during the case of McInnis v. Shaprio that the Fourteenth Amendment “does not require that public school expenditures be made only on the basis of pupils’ educational needs,and the lack of judicially manageable standards makes this controversy nonjusticiable,” (1968).

Therefore, even if students need textbooks, school supplies, among other crucial materials to succeed in school, public schools are not required to supply them even if deemed that they are needed, as reinforced through the Fourteenth Amendment.  Several court cases—which we looked at in class—are building case upon case to improve this interpretation of the Fourteenth Amendment.

One improvement to close this financial gap includes switching from an annual budget, which expires at the end of each year, to a rollover budget.  Several students in class knew teachers who felt like they had to spend every penny in their annual budget in case there were future budget cuts.  If there was a rollover budget, perhaps this extra money would not be senselessly spent.

A rollover budget might increase efficiency within an affluent school district’s budget, but what about a poverty-stricken school district?  Would a rollover budget really create that big of a difference from year to year if they lack the proper funding in the first place?  Our class discussion last Tuesday hinted at finding a way to distribute extra funds to those school districts that need it most.  How would we be able to determine which school districts need the money the most? What if one more affluent school was surrounded by several poverty-stricken schools?  How would you be able to decide which schools deserve the extra funding?  This lack of regulation for distribution of funds among localities would create chaos.  A clear set of regulations regarding leveling of the budget would need to be created in order to ensure fairness among all area schools.

References

McInnis v. Shapiro. (1968). 293 F. Supp. 327 – Dist. Court, ND Illinois.

U.S. Department of Education. (2005). 10 Facts about K-12 Education Funding. Washington, D.C.: Education Publication Center.

One response to “School Budget Disparities

  1. anne- i agree with your thoughts on a rollover budget. I do believe it is a easy and realistic way to help solve this problem. You make some really valid points – great post!