Equitable Funding

For a printable version of this statement, click here: Equitable Funding

We stand strong in support of equitable funding for all public school communities:

  • Equitable funding across all public schools and school systems
  • Full public funding of family and community support services
  • Full funding for 21st century school and neighborhood libraries
  • And end to economically and racially re-segregated schools

With the creation of No Child Left Behind in 2003, the United States Department of Education has inserted itself into across-the-board education policy creation and even into individual classrooms. The role of the federal government in education should be limited to two things: economies of scale, and assuring equity for all American children.

Our schools are the stages where the real values and goals of America are played out every day. True democracy and equality under the law are meaningless unless we provide our children with the tools to participate fully in American life and citizenship.

Equitable funding does not mean “equal” funding–or even “adequate” funding. It represents something far more important in a nation where the divide between haves and have-nots has grown to shameful and dangerous proportions: a fair shake, equitable opportunity for all children to receive a free, high-quality public education. A genuine chance to learn–no matter the circumstances of their birth, the town where they reside or the school they attend.

We envision a comprehensive system of supports, beginning with our traditional public schools which serve the overwhelming majority of students, including those most impacted by poverty. Well over 20% of our public school students live in poverty–and the number is growing. The only way to reverse this trend is investing now in the overall well-being of these children, which cannot happen exclusively in the classroom. Pay now–or pay later.

The market-based policies now advanced by the U.S. Department of Education, in their Blueprint (PDF) for re-authorizing No Child Left Behind do not address inequities of funding or opportunity for American children. They will take us in the wrong direction:

  • Competitive grants for federal dollars under Race to the Top reward states with the means to hire professional grant-writers.
  • Merit pay schemes lead to a narrowing of curriculum and are often based on faulty measurement.
  • Encouraging the growth of public school academies builds in further inequity, as children whose parents have the means to provide transportation, uniforms and the all-important home academic support withdraw their human capital from struggling public systems, leaving traditional public schools worse off.

We do not support the “comparable” or “adequate” funding language in the Blueprint, which we see as a means to justify providing our poorest children new, inexperienced–and cheap–teachers. We stand strong in support of full investment in a system that serves all children, preparing them for life in the 21st century, not compliance, being funneled into low-skill, dead-end jobs–or worse, the school-to-prison pipeline.

Nor do we accept the media-fed cliché’ that investing in our public education system is throwing money at a systemic problem. We know that plenty of money has been thrown in the wrong direction: creation of still more tests, mandated federal reporting requirements, blue-ribbon committees to take teacher evaluation out of the hands of districts where those teachers work–and other market-based federal policies.

We know better. The best schools are well-funded and surrounded by community supports. Our children deserve no less.

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