We need to change how we fund schools

We need to change how we fund schools

If we don't change how we fund schools, can we still claim the American Dream is a possibility for everyone?

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When I was growing up, no matter what happened, it was always a certainty that I would go to college. I know many friends who thought that going to college was law, mandatory just like going to high school was. But for many people, college is just a dream. Depending on whether college was always a known endpoint on your path through education, or if it was only something you could go to in your dreams says a lot about what the years after your school will look like. So how come college was always something I knew I would go to, while others are never so sure?

For one thing, it wasn't just me who knew I was going to college, it was everyone in the school I went to, everyone in my community. So how come different communities look so different? Well, that's where funding for schools come in, "in the United States, the public school a student attends is still primarily determined by where their family lives. Most children are enrolled in district schools that receive, on average, nearly half of their funding through local property taxes." the organization Edbuild further argues that "This system ties school budgets to the value of local property wealth and incentivizes boundaries between upper- and lower-income communities. Intentional or not, these invisible walls often concentrate education dollars within affluent school districts, and ensure that low-income students are kept on the outside." Edbuild has even built an interactive map to see where the poorest school districts lie.

So if in my school (where the Edbuild map shows that student poverty seems to fall between 0 and 10%) what does it look like in a school district where Edbuild says that student poverty is over 40%? A group of students from the Detroit School District is currently suing the State of Michigan saying that education is a basic right and that they have been in denying it. This Atlantic article goes into further detail about the case, but the opening lines set the scene for what the school is like, and why a lawsuit was necessary; "What to do when a school is infested with vermin, when textbooks are outdated when students can't even read?"

If you are wondering what this looks like on a more macro scale, then what the funding equates to is one example would be PBS dived into a report by the US Commision for Civil Rights which revealed that "33 percent of high schools with high black and Latino enrollment offer calculus, compared with 56 percent of high schools with low black and Latino student populations." The availability of such classes translates into people being able to have more competitive resumes when applying to college, or being able to enter college with some college credit under their belt. The reason for the existence (or lack thereof) of such classes comes down to funding. As mentioned early funding is largely based on local taxes, separating affluent and non-affluent communities, which has the effect of "On average, school districts spend around $11,000 per student each year, but the highest-poverty districts receive an average of $1,200 less per child than the least-poor districts, while districts serving the largest numbers of minority students get about $2,000 less than those serving the fewest students of color, according to the study."

So what can be done about this? Well, before looking at solutions we need to get as close as we can to the root of the problem. The Economic Policy Institute (EPI) says in a report that "it is increasingly apparent that performance gaps by social class take root in the earliest years of children's lives and fail to narrow in the years that follow. That is, children who start behind stay behind—they are rarely able to make up the lost ground. … The development of strong cognitive and noncognitive skills is essential for success in school and beyond. Low educational achievement leads to lowered economic prospects later in life, perpetuating a lack of social mobility across generations."

The solution needs to be far-reaching, we need to change how schools are funded, and make sure that schools start early. The EPI recommends "Greater investments in pre-K programs can narrow the gaps between students at the start of school. And to ensure that these early gains are maintained, districts can provide continued comprehensive academic, health, nutrition, and emotional support for children through their academic years, including meaningful engagement of parents and communities." The PBS article said a good start would be "states should do a better job of raising education funding and in equalizing spending among school districts. He also called for a greater federal role in making sure that less affluent states that need additional education funding get it." They also included that school districts should be desegregated and that when spending the money it needs to be done wisely. One example being "simply increasing the salaries of all teachers in a high-need school district won't have as much of an impact as identifying high-performing teachers and increasing their salaries."

All and all, with school, like most things, you get what you pay for, and right now for too many Americans we are paying for the cheapest education system, one which doesn't even guarantee students will leave knowing how to read. This burned then falls upon groups of people who are already struggling. This needs to end if we want to believe America is a place where anybody can succeed. Especially when education plays such a crucial role in success.

Cover Image Credit:

Photo by David Kennedy on Unsplash

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Jason Kulpa, San Diego CEO and Founder of Jason Kulpa Wife Scholarship, Reveals 3 Smart Ways to Tame the High Cost of College

The cost of college is going nowhere but up, but you do not have to succumb to all that debt.

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If you are worried about the high cost of higher education, you are not alone. With the cost of college tuition going nowhere but up and financial aid holding steady or going down, even middle- and upper-class parents often worry that they will not be able to make their dreams of a college education for their children come true.

No matter who you are or where you live, the cost of a college education keeps going up. If you want to help your son or daughter graduate without crippling college loan debt, you need to think out of the box and look for creative ways to tame the high cost of a college education.

Apart from applying to scholarships to fund higher education, such as the Jason Kulpa Wife Scholarship (learn more at www.jasonkulpawife.com), there are three strategies you can use to reduce the cost of college without sacrificing the education your child needs and deserves.

1. Use Tuition Assistance to Enhance Your Career at Virtually No Cost

Even in today's high-cost college environment, there is a way to get an excellent education and do it at virtually no cost. This path may take longer, but the thought of graduating from college with a stable full-time income and no debt whatsoever is undoubtedly an attractive one.

There is something to be said for entering the workforce right after high school, and a growing number of young people are considering this option. Many employers offer tuition assistance to even entry-level workers and going to college part time while working full time is more feasible than ever, thanks to the widespread availability of online learning and virtual college courses.

If you take this approach, you could graduate with marketable skills your current employer will appreciate, setting you up for future promotions and a higher salary. Best of all, the cost of that education could be negligible, putting you on a sound financial footing and helping you enjoy even greater success while your peers are struggling with college debt.

2. Take Advantage of Work/Study Opportunities

Working your way through school does not necessarily mean delivering pizzas on the weekend or tending bar in the evenings. Many colleges provide work/study opportunities for their students, giving young people the chance to earn a living while securing their future education.

Some of these work/study opportunities are limited a single field of education, while others are open to all. If you are looking for a way to avoid college loan debt, you owe it to yourself to check out these work/study opportunities and take advantage of them when you can.

3. Start with a Community College Education

Compared to the cost of a four-year college or university, the price of community college is a real bargain. More and more community colleges are offering courses specifically designed to give budget-conscious learners a head start on the education they need.

Taking your first year or two of education at a community college could save you a ton of money on tuition and room and board. Once you have a solid background in your course of study, you can transfer your community college credits to a four-year school and continue your education without incurring huge college loan debt.

The cost of college is going nowhere but up, but you do not have to succumb to all that debt. If you are willing to think outside the box and take an unorthodox path to higher education, in addition to seeking out and applying for niche scholarships such as the Jason Kulpa Wife Scholarship, you could escape the college loan trap and get a jump start on a great career.

About: The Jason Kulpa Wife Scholarship is just one of several investments Jason Kulpa has pledged to his community. Jason Kulpa founded San Diego based UE.co in 2008 after holding operations positions at a number of fast-growing Ad-Tech companies. Since becoming CEO, he has taken a hands-on approach to driving strategic partnerships and creating a company culture that promotes innovation and respect for high-level vision. Mr. Kulpa graduated from the W.P. Carey School of Business at Arizona State University.

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10 Ways English Majors Are Figuratively, NOT Literally, Ted Mosby

To write or to read, that is the question all English majors must face when working on homework.

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Rather you're an English major or lit major or a writing major, there are a few things that we all have in common. And if you watched "How I Met Your Mother," you probably related to Ted Mosby more than you wished to.

1. Restraining yourself for correct people's text

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It's you're not your and it irritates me to no end.

2. Not understanding the difference between an English major and an English writing or English literature major

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My friend from another school is an English major and I'm an English writing major. I still don't know what the difference is.

3. Having one grammar rule that you care a lot about

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Whether it be "your vs. you're," "affect vs. effect," or "literally vs. figuratively," there's a good chance you go crazy throughout your day.

4. Writer's block

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Especially because your grade counts on it. Although, it won't be fun when it turns into your job depending on it.

5. Having to write all genres in one class

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Even though you prefer one genre and hate the others.

I don't care for nonfiction tbh.

6. Workshops

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Not your best moments.

7. Knowing how impossible it is to have a favorite book

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It's like picking a favorite child... but worse.

8. Feeling bad when you forget grammar rules

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Are you even an English major???

9. People telling you your major is the easiest one

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I get it, but at the same time, we can have a lot of work to do. We just drown in papers, reading assignments, research projects, presentations and portfolios. I still prefer it to exams and labs.

10. Figuring out life

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Honestly, there's too many things I want to do for a career and I can't pick AND each one is under my major. It is a nice problem to have. But hey I can run away from making a choice until the time comes.

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