Local Control and Property Taxes and Re-Allocating Funds

I was talking to a friend last night about property tax and the role it plays in widening the education gap between poor, middle class and wealthy communities. I started toying around with the idea of reallocating funds from relatively well funded schools/districts to nearby poor performing, low funded districts. My friend took the stance that funds,whether provided by the State or the district, should not be taken out of a particular district. I agreed that local funds, steming directly from a communities property taxes, should stay in the community but distribution of State taxes should be determined based on need. In other words, I’m not in favor for providing all districts with at least a minimum amount of funding, regardless of need.

My friend said the solution shouldn’t be to take away from any school and that it should be some other way to help students out of poverty. I tried to reason what this but couldn’t see how badly well funded schools can be affected. I gave her the following hypothetical:

With the use of both state and local funding from property taxes, a school on Long Island offers its students eight AP classes. There’s another school, twenty minutes away and in New York City, that can’t afford to offer their most talented students any AP classes, making them unable to effectively compete with the nearby Long Island school to get into the colleges that will provide them with the most opporunity to not only succeed in life but help them become independent adults. The State, noting these disparities, decides to take away, say, $2,000 from the Long Island School and give it to the New York City school. This action would, say, bring the Lon Island schools selection of AP clased down to six from right, as well as take away one extracurricular activity out of many. The New York City school would then have two AP classes, rather than zero and a well funded extracurricualr activity that really challeneges the participants. Is this the most effective move? Is this a fair move?

Even with this more detailed example, my friend said that regardless of how many programs a school has, if all students are equal, the State should provide them with equal funding. She believes that the eight-AP-class school should not be penalized, in anyway, so that the New York City school can have a fighting chance. She also said that suburban families should not have to take any amount from their children to proivde for city children, after all, they’re living in the suburbans to get away from the high expenses of city life and to give their kids a better education.

I disagree and , simply put, she essentially thinks I’m crazy. 

While I understand what she is saying to a certain extent, how are the children with no little opporunities, ever supposed to get opportunities? I love capitalism but in this respect, as a nation, we must say that we don’t really care that all children are properly educated because to do so would be too socialst and it would require us to take from people who already have and that wouldn’t be right…
We should just tell our kids that someone has to be shit and while there are riches all around you, that’s just not meant for you. Now, don’t get me wrong. I know we can’t save every child and there are parents living in poverty who don’t care about their children’s education. But there are also kids who start off with ambition but end up working at McDonald’s because they were never given a real opporutunites. To those people, we must acknowledge that they’re not the only people who have “failed” themselves. Our society plays a role in that failure. With that said, we shouldn’t complain when our taxes goes towards sysems like welfare and Medicaid. While there are some people who leech on welfare systems, there are plenty of people who are career, welfare depending Wendy’s employees who could have been fully independent individuals had they been given a chance to be more…

But that’s not our problem because, apparently, in order for anyone to be successful they need eight AP classes, rather than six. And those anyones are usually ones who can afford it.

Never About Equal Opportunity

“Whether they were born to poor white Appalachians or to wealthy Texans, to poor black people in the Bronx or to rich people in Manhasset or Winnetka, they are all quite wonderful and innocent when they are small. We soil them needlessly”

– John Kozol, 1991

This is terribly true, but we’re too much of a capitalist country for all students to even have a some  what equal opportunity.

From “Savage Inequalities”

Here’s a quote from the education policy classic Savage Inequalities:

We are preparing a generation of robots. Kids are learning exclusively though rote. We have children who are given no conceptual framework. They do not learn to think, becuase their teachers are straightjacketd by tests that measure only isolated skills. As a result, they can be given no electives nothing wonderful or beautiful, nothing that touches the spirit or the soul. [emphasis mine]

This is a quote from a Camden, New Jersey public high school principal. The sad part is that, if you read the quote today, and had no context, you wouldn’t be able to tell it was said in 1990. There are far too many public schools operating the same way today. Jesus. When will it get better?

“The Walmartization of Public Eductaion”

Here’s a fantastic article about the Walmart Family Foundation’s expanion of their hellbent support of charter schools. If you don’t want to read the whole article, skip to the last few paragraphs. The author, Valerie Strauss, makes a key point. She essentially says it doesn’t matter if you’re pro or anti charter schools. It doesn’t matter if you’re in between. What does matter is where each community stands on the matter and due to the Walmart Family Foundation’s heavy funding, with no regard to what communities want, this is just another example of the Man forcing his own, self-centered beliefs on (in this case) a mass group of people. As Strauss questions, how is this democarcy when a hanful of people are deciding our country’s educational future?

S.A.’s Got-to-Go List’s Lawsuits

Success Academy refused to provide a five year old with adequate services to address his learning disabilities. Instead, they sent him home for early dismissal and called his parents nearly every day because he ciolated the Academy’s Code of Coduct. What’s more is that even after he the school formalized a plan that could remedy his disabilities (at least to a certain extent), they refused to actually put those simple remedies, such as deep breathing tactics and taking short walks, in place. They did not want to bend their strict Code of Conduct, which entails sitting upright at all times. Eventually, I.L.’s (he’s called I.L. for privacy) parents were told that I.L. was “not a good fit” for the school. I.L.’s parents removed him from the school.

I.L. was one of the students on the Sucess Academy-Fort Greene’s-should-be-infamous “Got to Go” list, which targeted students with learning and behavioral disabilities for permanant removal. His parents are suing the school, which is fantastic because now we can get a closer look at the gross injustices that students with learning disabilities face at militaristic charter schools. But it’s sad that Success Academy, with all its resources, doesn’t truly take the time  to help them. The initial idea behind charter schools was for them to work more closely with kids who have learning and behavioral problems. It’s clear by this list that Success Academy only cares about the students who are “willing to learn.” It also adds to the idea that charters push out the “bad” kids and use the public school system as a “dumpsite. Read more here.