In a scathing report, the Education Trust says that most states cheat minority and poor school districts by underfunding them. New York State was the worst offender with an average expenditure gap of $2,280 between the wealthiest and the poorest districts. (See news here.)
"New York also stands out for neglecting to fairly fund poor and minority school districts. New York spends $2,280 less per student in its poorest districts than its does on students educated in its wealthiest school districts. Even after New York was ordered to deal with these funding gaps, policymakers have failed to take action," the report said.
The CFE lawsuit addressed this issue and ordered that New York City schools need $5.6 billion more each year – 44 percent more than they currently get – to give students the sound, basic education they deserve. Yet NYS politicians failed to provide the funding by the deadline and there is still no funding in sight despite the deadlock going back to a June 2003 decision. In the meanwhile, the Rich-Poor Gap Widens not only for individuals but for schools in general.
Anna Bernasek writes in the NYTimes on December 11, 2005 "What’s the Return on Education?" (read it here). Bernasek says that economists acknowledge that schools offer vital social and cultural benefits to a nation, but asks what are the economic benefits?
It is clear that there is a direct relationship between life-time income and the level of education of individuals. Studies by Professor Alan B. Krueger of Princeton and others show that class size, teacher quality and school size can make a difference, something the UFT has been saying all along. Bernasek adds, "They [economists] have found that the effect of better schools is most pronounced for disadvantaged students."
But the economic results of a better educated society they say is not as easily measurable, despite what we all know about the recent job creation in India and China because of their investments in computer and technology education for its citizens. Yet, economists have been going back and forth on the question about whether the economic results of a good education system for a nation are similar to the economic results for an individual. Or in other words, does a good universal education system build national wealth?
Recently, more economists are drawing the conclusions that a good education is one of the gateways to wealth creation for individuals as well as for nations. Bernasek says "That means that investing in the education of every American is in everyone’s self-interest." Education is the source for wealth creation for all.
By the way, these aren’t new theories. Teacher unions and economists have drawn similar conclusions for years.
So I leave it up to our readers: Why are we starving public schools in poor and minority districts? Why don’t our politicians see that teacher quality, and smaller class size make a major difference in the economic future of our children? Why don’t they see that a good universal public education for its citizens builds wealth for a nation and benefits everyone?
Is it because "trickle up" economics is anathema to "trickle down" economic policies?