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General Nature of K-12 Funding Research Paper

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Updated: May 25th, 2021

K-12 is the public education system in the United States that covers education from kindergarten up to grade 12. It is mainly funded by the federal, state, and local governments. The K-12 system in California is mainly funded by the state government. In the financial year 2016/2017, the state funding was 60%, with local taxes covering 25% and federal funding 9%. This is in accordance with the law that states that the state governments should be the main financiers of public education in the country. Levels of funding of the K-12 system vary across the country every year.

In California, the state government has allocated $81 billion to K-12 education from its budget this year. This translates to $13000 per student.[1] The income used in the funding of the institutions comes from property taxes.[2] As such, the number of funds allocated to every school mainly depends on the wealth and property values in its surrounding community. The wealthy class contributes larger amounts towards education financing simply because they pay more taxes, while the middle and lower-class schools receive less funding because their community members tend to pay lower taxes).[3] Due to this issue, institutions located in leafy suburbs can afford to purchase the most updated learning materials, construct modern educational facilities and hire the best teaching staff available.

On the other hand, middle-class schools often find themselves spending all their funding on paying teachers, leaving little or no money to improve their learning facilities and instruments. This is where the state government comes in to supplement the budget deficits of the less privileged schools, although their financing is inconsistent and sometimes unreliable.[4] If the schools do not receive state funding, they then usually adopt cost-minimizing techniques such as retrenchment of some teachers and reducing courses offered, which is a big blow to the students. As a result, students in schools with limited funding receive low-level curriculum compared to their counterparts inadequately funded institutions, a factor that creates a gap in skills required on campus between the two sets of students.[5]

Contention of K-12

The current challenge is facing the funding of the K-12 system in California in the aftermath of the change from society-controlled financing to a state-dominated system.[6] There have been issues since the 70s up to now in the funding process.

Evolution of K-12

In the early 70s, financing of the K-12 education system was done from property taxes which were set by boards.[7] At the time, tax rates were different among districts, and due to variations in the value of taxable properties, the process resulted in huge variations. The process was favorable to wealthy communities but severe to low-class communities. The situation forced the poor folks to pay more taxes in order to match the levels of funding by the privileged communities. The system was changed by the Serrano and Priest case in the late 70s. [8] The case questioned if it was ethically fair for wealthy parents to pay lower taxes and enjoy better schooling for their kids than the poor families. The court concluded system of funding was unfair, and students had nothing to do with their guardians’ wealth and therefore proposed limits to tax rates meant to harmonize the situation.[9]

In 1978, an election passed an amendment setting a tax ceiling of 1% on the rate of property tax which led to a decline in funding. This drastic change forced the State of California to jump in to prevent many schools from running out of funds or closing down. Through this involvement, the state government took control over tax rates allocation on property and determination of the amount of funding for every school.[10] Up to 2014, the revenue limits were the basis of financing K-12. Currently, about 10% of districts can comfortably finance their schools above the national average ratio. However, the switch from property tax-based funding to income tax-based funding has been huge affected by frequent tax level fluctuations resulting from economic changes. [11]

The Current State of K-12 Funding

There have been a lot of budget standoffs in the financing of the K-12 system in many states across the country, although some states have managed to balance their books. In California, the fiscal pressures have proved to be unbearable to state tax collection. The increased use of e-commerce has seen more parents and students migrate to online shopping, which has reduced the amount of sales tax to the state government. [12] The funding process has been further weakened by the high level of unemployment currently witnessed in the country, which has reduced household income, thus decreasing the level of K-12 funding.

The level of funding at the moment in California depends on the political climate in the state. If politicians propose an increase in the budget portion allocated to schools, then it’s a win for the K-12 education system. However, getting enough political support to pass an amendment increasing the amount of funding has proved to be a difficulty even in small districts, making state reforms harder to maneuver. The old method might have been unfair, but it was much reliable in raising money compared to the current system.[13]

Additionally, the constant increase in the cost of staffing teachers and inflation has increased the pressure on the state and the federal government to increase their funding to K-12, which has raised stress on budgeting in K-12 institutions.[14]

Eliminating funding constraints in the K-12 system will require raising the levels of taxation. Many stakeholders have also proposed that the best way of ensuring there is unlimited funding to schools is for the state to contribute equal amounts to each school.[15] The main challenge of this process would be the fact that some students require different budgets, and equal funding would still not fully solve the financing issue. This can be explained by the fact that students in learning institutions take different subjects and courses: a student studying chemistry would require different material from a student taking literature.[16]

The other solution would be the weighted student resource method.[17] This refers to a strategy where all schools would receive the same amount of funding, and then extra dollars would be allocated to those schools with special needs students. The issue of funding should be quickly solved to ensure children in the country learn in a reliable and fully funded education system.[18]

Bibliography

Bennet, Daarel. “Education Week.” Education Week. Web.

Noguchi, Sharon. “K-12:Tidal wave of expenses in looming California school budget crisis.” The Mercury News. 2017.

“TeacherConvoy.” TeacherConvoy. Web.

Walters, Dan. “How much will California have to spend? Lawmakers and Brown Disagree.” The Tribune. 2017. Web.

Weston, Magaret. PPPC. 2011. Web.

2017. Web.

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"General Nature of K-12 Funding." IvyPanda, 25 May 2021, ivypanda.com/essays/general-nature-of-k-12-funding/.

1. IvyPanda. "General Nature of K-12 Funding." May 25, 2021. https://ivypanda.com/essays/general-nature-of-k-12-funding/.


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IvyPanda. "General Nature of K-12 Funding." May 25, 2021. https://ivypanda.com/essays/general-nature-of-k-12-funding/.

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IvyPanda. 2021. "General Nature of K-12 Funding." May 25, 2021. https://ivypanda.com/essays/general-nature-of-k-12-funding/.

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IvyPanda. (2021) 'General Nature of K-12 Funding'. 25 May.

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