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Friday, November 6, 2020

OPINION: U.S. public education should be federally funded

OPINION: U.S. public education should be federally funded
U.S. public schools should be federally funded
“The concept of ‘local control’ is grounded in and reflective of systemic racism”

How good are America’s public schools? It depends on where you live.

Education funding is like any other public infrastructure investment. School systems with sufficient funding tend to get better results. Schools that lack resources are less effective and resilient in the face of ordinary challenges, let alone unprecedented catastrophes like the coronavirus pandemic.

Even as distance-education removes the spatial component from public education — lessons no longer happen in a particular classroom, or at a particular school, but on the (ostensibly worldwide) web — these lines still separate children from one another. The endless Covid-19 crisis is revealing the primary weakness of decentralizing the funding of public services: Stark resource divides that fuel some of the deepest social inequities.

Related: “Kids wo have less, need more”: The fight over school funding

This starts with interstate funding gaps. In states like Kansas and Arizona, leaders have long underfunded their public education systems. This led to the spectacle, early in the pandemic, of Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey announcing that the state would “donate” 200 mobile hotpots to its public schools in an effort to kickstart private hotspot donations. We see even bigger disparities in public preschool spending: In 2019, the District of Columbia spent $18,669 per child, while North Dakota and Nebraska each spent less than $2,000 per child.

At the local level, these resource disparities regularly align with — and exacerbate — longstanding racial, socioeconomic, ethnic and linguistic divisions in American society. According to 2017 data from EdBuild, a nonprofit focused on inequitable education funding, schools in Pennsylvania’s Lower Merion School District were funded to the tune of $25,068 per student, while schools in neighboring Philadelphia received just $12,044. It’s bitterly unsurprising that Lower Merion schools are CONTINUE READING: