Saturday, April 23, 2016

How Much Does Your School District Spend Per Pupil? #SchoolFunding #poverty

Spending more money per student does not necessarily mean a better education, It is however an indicator of a better education. It also says a lot about the priorities of a community.

National Public Radio is running a fascinating series on school funding. The link below leads to the article as well as an interactive map where you can look up how much your district spends per pupil as compared to other districts locally to nationally. The article and map may be found here.

Here are some quotes from the series:
"Since the early 1970s, nearly every state has seen at least one lawsuit over how it pays for schools and whether the result is fair or adequate.  Of the many funding lawsuits that have played out in the nation's courts, one stands out: San Antonio Independent School District v. Rodriguez.  The suit, which made it to the U.S. Supreme Court, struck at the heart of the nation's school-funding system....The plaintiffs argued that any school-funding system that depends on local property tax revenue is fundamentally unfair to poorer districts. Specifically, the suit claimed, the way we pay for our schools violates the U.S. Constitution's equal protection clause, which says that no state shall 'deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws.' ... In a split 5-4 decision, the Supreme Court ruled against Rodriguez, saying there is no right to equal funding in education under the U.S. Constitution. Not that the system is fair or balanced — just that the federal government has no obligation to make it so. In his forceful dissent, Justice Thurgood Marshall wrote, 'I cannot accept such an emasculation of the Equal Protection Clause in the context of this case.' "

So what do you think of this story? Have you looked up your school district on the interactive map?


  1. This was an interesting read because I've been processing why my school continues to fail. I work in a "low socioeconomic inner city" school and our school has access to countless resources due to grants. Our students have laptops, smart boards, small group instruction, free breakfast, snack and lunch, free enriching after school care and are never without school materials. Teachers have unlimited access to paper, printing, pens, crayons, folders, notebooks, backpacks etc. Again, most of this is private grants as well as title one funding. Why then do we continue to score the lowest in our district and have habitual behavior issues? What I see as the largest set back is the cultural mindset and classroom management. I work with elementary students who continue on to high schools with a 30% drop out rate, if they do drop out they generally stay in the same community, have families and their children go to the same school. It's cyclical. My students only dream of becoming famous athletes in order to leave their community. 10 year olds sell marijuana on campus and 8 year olds fist fight when one wants to stand in line in front of the other. A lot of my students don't understand their potential and value. They reproduce what they see at home: when something doesn't go your way- you fight verbally or physically. They don't understand how to persevere through difficult tasks- they simply say "I'm not smart and this is stupid to do". They are entitled to everything and they often can't take responsibility for their actions. They desperately need to understand their worth and ability to work through mentally taxing activities. Although this article may be relevant to some schools, I believe we have a much bigger issue than simply low funded schools. We need teachers and administration that will pour love and truth into the students & require community involvement as well. We want to create employees, employers, wives, husbands, moms and dads who uplift their communities and understand their purpose in creating a better world.

  2. It is interesting to see the disparity in academic achievement that the unequal distribution of school-finding creates in the United States. Although, the article does not go into the specifics of how the money is spent, nor the academic achievement of each district versus its spending, less funding means less resources for our students, and thus, more than likely lower academic performance.

    It is unfortunate to hear that the effects of “redlining” are still in place. We might have gotten rid of legal segregation, but students are still suffering the effects. To a certain extent, the unequal distribution towards schools, or the distribution based on property taxes is an implicit form of segregation because richer neighborhoods get more resources, “better” teachers, and a better educational experience overall, without taking into account the poverty level. Many organizations are trying to fight against the achievement gap. Many teachers are pressured to work miracles with what they are given, especially in inner city schools. Many teachers are overworked. This is probably one of the reasons why there has been such a decrease within the profession.

    The achievement gap is a systemic issue that cannot be solved simply by providing more money to the districts. Spending more money per pupil could mean that districts would be able to afford basic needs, such as having a full-time nurse or an Arts program. However, is not the ultimate solution. For instance, Finland, one of the countries with the best education systems in the world on average spends $7,500 per pupil whereas in the United States the average spending is $11, 841. There needs to be a revolutionary change in the way in which we implement and treat our educational system. One of the main differences between Finland and the United States is the tracking and grading system. We seem to be obsessed with numbers and tests. For some reason, we focus on the quantity rather than the quality. For instance, our students attend school for more hours than students in Finland.

    At the same time we attempt to fix the educational system, we should attempt to fix the distribution of wealth in the country. One of the biggest obstacles working against the progress of our students is poverty. It is almost impossible to learn for a child when he does not have enough food to eat at home and his house is infested with bugs and his parents cannot afford to fix the problem because they do not have the resources.