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  • Writer's pictureAntonise De Wet

We don't need no education... or do we?

What makes education so crucial?

Every good teacher is aware of the value and impact of education. It goes beyond simply learning reading, writing, and math in school. Instead, acquiring the knowledge and skills necessary to improve oneself and build a better society is the goal of formal education. People can develop personally, professionally, and socially with the right education. It can arouse happiness, curiosity, and a strong desire to resolve issues and assist others. Teaching a student can also motivate them to take on leadership responsibilities and have a positive influence on those around them.

“Education is one thing no one can take away from you.” —Elin Nordegren

Every parent wants to provide their kids with education, the greatest gift they could ever receive for a bright future. Despite the fact that different countries around the world have different approaches to child education, the importance of it is universally acknowledged.

You probably consider the costs you incur personally when estimating how much your child's education will cost. The expenses quickly mount and include everything from uniforms and school supplies to lunches every day, transportation to and from school, and extra learning resources at home. But what about the expenses you do not defray? Someone has to cover these costs, but who? Examples include paying for teacher salaries, school upkeep and repairs, taxes, and more.

If your child attends a public school, it's likely that the government will cover most of the cost of his education (federal and state as well as local).

Public education spending varies greatly from region to region of the nation. New York is the biggest spender, spending more than $20,000 on each student annually. This covers pay for teachers as well as expenses for support staff and other educational costs. States like Utah and Idaho, on the other hand, spend a small portion of that total – roughly a third as much, to put a price on it. According to statistics from 2017, New York, Texas, and California were the three states with the highest state and local spending on education, totaling $86.1 billion, $87.2 billion, and $130.5 billion, respectively. States like Idaho, Montana, Wyoming, North Dakota, and South Dakota, which have the smallest populations (under 2.8 million), also have some of the lowest spending (between $2.5 and $3.5 billion). While the economies of Northeastern states like Pennsylvania, Ohio, and New Jersey are in the mid-30s to low-40s, those of Midwestern states like Nebraska, Kansas, Oklahoma, and Iowa range from $7.4 to $11.7 billion.

What Exactly Happens to Your Tax Money?

The average school district receives about 44% of its funding from the local government, 47% of its funding from the state government, and about 9% of its funding from the federal government, according to Data First[3]. Although the exact percentages vary from state to state, these funds are typically used for the following purposes: instruction, operations, administration, and student services. Property taxes provide a sizeable portion of the funding for this. At the state level, sales and income taxes account for the majority of funding for public education, whereas property taxes account for the majority of funding at the local level. As you might imagine, this system contributes to some of the significant differences in public education funding between states. To further complicate matters, improvements in school reform have raised standards in the country's schools without necessarily increasing funding. The No Child Left Behind Act of 2005, for instance, imposed stricter requirements with the aim of enhancing individual results in public education.

What Are the Costs of Better Education?

Numerous cost analyses demonstrate the unfairness of funding for low-income school districts, but nobody has ever examined the relationship between a school's spending and student achievement until now.

To estimate how much it would cost each school district in the country to raise student performance levels in math and reading to the national average, a group of five researchers from Rutgers University recently developed a complex model in cooperation with the Education Law Center. This seems like a modest objective when you recall the previous section and the staggering number of school districts that fall far short of even the "proficient" level. Unfortunately, that is how the country's public education system is currently functioning.

How much would it cost to raise student performance in those underperforming districts to the level of the nation as a whole?

Prior studies have shown that increased funding has a positive impact on low-income students' academic performance, but it has been challenging to compare these successes across the nation. However, a dataset that maps every state test on a single federal benchmark is now accessible thanks to intricate calculations made by the Stanford Education Data Archive. The Rutgers researchers used this to create their model.

This group of researchers estimated that it would cost $5,000 to $30,000 per student per year to achieve test scores that were on par with or better than the national average. The location of the district and the variety of student demographics are the two main determinants of the exact cost. Once more, schools that are situated in regions of the nation where wages are higher will incur higher expenses. The cost of educating low-income students increases more quickly in urban than in suburban areas due to population density. It makes sense if you give it some thought. The cost to the school to make up the difference in terms of educational resources is higher the lower the student's income is.

Consider a school district where 40% of the students identify as low-income. In order to achieve average test scores, this district would need to spend between $20,000 and $30,000. A school district would only need to spend $5,000 to $10,000 per student annually if there were 10% or fewer low-income students enrolled. Keep in mind that these expenses are only necessary to raise the majority of students' performance to the level of the country as a whole. The costs would be much higher—astronomical even—to get students up to the minimum state standard for their grade level or to achieve a level higher than "proficient."

Interesting right? Well this is only the tip of the Iceberg...

Paavan Kotini


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