america education system underfunded

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?

Jake VP.
Jake VP.
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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school is like, and why a lawsuit was necessary; "What to do when a school is infested with vermin, when textbooks are outdated when students can't even read?"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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College As Told By Junie B. Jones

A tribute to the beloved author Barbara Parks.
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The Junie B. Jones series was a big part of my childhood. They were the first chapter books I ever read. On car trips, my mother would entertain my sister and me by purchasing a new Junie B. Jones book and reading it to us. My favorite part about the books then, and still, are how funny they are. Junie B. takes things very literally, and her (mis)adventures are hilarious. A lot of children's authors tend to write for children and parents in their books to keep the attention of both parties. Barbara Park, the author of the Junie B. Jones series, did just that. This is why many things Junie B. said in Kindergarten could be applied to her experiences in college, as shown here.

When Junie B. introduces herself hundreds of times during orientation week:

“My name is Junie B. Jones. The B stands for Beatrice. Except I don't like Beatrice. I just like B and that's all." (Junie B. Jones and the Stupid Smelly Bus, p. 1)

When she goes to her first college career fair:

"Yeah, only guess what? I never even heard of that dumb word careers before. And so I won't know what the heck we're talking about." (Junie B. Jones and her Big Fat Mouth, p. 2)

When she thinks people in class are gossiping about her:

“They whispered to each other for a real long time. Also, they kept looking at me. And they wouldn't even stop." (Junie B., First Grader Boss of Lunch, p. 66)

When someone asks her about the library:

“It's where the books are. And guess what? Books are my very favorite things in the whole world!" (Junie B. Jones and the Stupid Smelly Bus, p. 27)

When she doesn't know what she's eating at the caf:

“I peeked inside the bread. I stared and stared for a real long time. 'Cause I didn't actually recognize the meat, that's why. Finally, I ate it anyway. It was tasty...whatever it was." (Junie B., First Grader Boss of Lunch, p. 66)

When she gets bored during class:

“I drew a sausage patty on my arm. Only that wasn't even an assignment." (Junie B. Jones Loves Handsome Warren, p. 18)

When she considers dropping out:

“Maybe someday I will just be the Boss of Cookies instead!" (Junie B., First Grader Boss of Lunch, p. 76)

When her friends invite her to the lake for Labor Day:

“GOOD NEWS! I CAN COME TO THE LAKE WITH YOU, I BELIEVE!" (Junie B. Jones Smells Something Fishy, p. 17)

When her professor never enters grades on time:

“I rolled my eyes way up to the sky." (Junie B., First Grader Boss of Lunch, p. 38)

When her friends won't stop poking her on Facebook:


“Do not poke me one more time, and I mean it." (Junie B. Jones Smells Something Fishy, p. 7)

When she finds out she got a bad test grade:

“Then my eyes got a little bit wet. I wasn't crying, though." (Junie B. Jones and the Stupid Smelly Bus, p. 17)

When she isn't allowed to have a pet on campus but really wants one:

“FISH STICK! I NAMED HIM FISH STICK BECAUSE HE'S A FISH STICK, OF COURSE!" (Junie B. Jones Smells Something Fishy, p. 59)

When she has to walk across campus in the dark:

“There's no such thing as monsters. There's no such thing as monsters." (Junie B. Jones Has a Monster Under Her Bed, p. 12)

When her boyfriend breaks her heart:

“I am a bachelorette. A bachelorette is when your boyfriend named Ricardo dumps you at recess. Only I wasn't actually expecting that terrible trouble." (Junie B. Jones Is (almost) a Flower Girl, p. 1)

When she paints her first canvas:


"And painting is the funnest thing I love!" (Junie B. Jones and her Big Fat Mouth, p. 61)

When her sorority takes stacked pictures:

“The biggie kids stand in the back. And the shortie kids stand in the front. I am a shortie kid. Only that is nothing to be ashamed of." (Junie B. Jones Has a Monster Under Her Bed, p. 7)

When she's had enough of the caf's food:

“Want to bake a lemon pie? A lemon pie would be fun, don't you think?" (Junie B. Jones Has a Monster Under Her Bed p. 34)

When she forgets about an exam:

“Speechless is when your mouth can't speech." (Junie B. Jones Loves Handsome Warren, p. 54)

When she finds out she has enough credits to graduate:

“A DIPLOMA! A DIPLOMA! I WILL LOVE A DIPLOMA!" (Junie B. Jones is a Graduation Girl p. 6)

When she gets home from college:

"IT'S ME! IT'S JUNIE B. JONES! I'M HOME FROM MY SCHOOL!" (Junie B. Jones and some Sneaky Peaky Spying p. 20)

Cover Image Credit: OrderOfBooks

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Things I Miss Now That I'm Home From College Again

There are so many reasons to be glad that the school year is over, but if you've done it right... there are a lot of reasons to miss it too.

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So, school is over now and I've come home. As expected I was so relieved at first. No more showering with flip-flops, no more listening to screaming girls running up and down the hall, and a space that is mine and mine alone. But after a week or so of being back, there are a few things I've already started to miss.

I know that not every single person has the ideal roommate but I got really lucky with mine. Coming home I was excited to have my own space, but now when I'm doing my midnight scrolling, I'm realizing that I miss being able to talk to her about the funny things I see in that very moment. Tagging, DMing, and texting her doesn't feel the same as a long night of giggles spent together.

Also, while seeing old friends when you get home is amazing, and there is always a lot to catch up on, you do start to miss your other friends too. Being in college means that your friends are going through similar things as you are all the time. You have tests together, clubs together, and sometimes you spend way too much time procrastinating together. The bond you begin to form is one you definitely begin to miss - especially when you guys don't live close off of campus.

Coming home also means you don't have a set schedule or at least not immediately. You may come back to a previous job and that puts something on your calendar, but the free time you still have during the week can be a little too much. I know I've spent way too much time obsessing over the Tati/James drama than I ever would have at school. The routine I had at school kept me busy and entertained, and I'm honestly missing it a lot right now.

There are a lot of other things to miss too - even things you thought you wouldn't. You miss the classes, the teachers, and sometimes the food. I know I miss the environment. It isn't a perfect one, but it's full of people just trying to find their way. We are all working through the roller coaster of life and we are all stuck on one beautiful campus together while we figure it all out. I miss meeting new people at the bus stops or running into old classmates and catching up.

I guess the bonus for me is that I just finished sophomore year which means I have more time to spend at school. Come senior year, I guess I'll have to learn quickly how to deal without the things I miss - and also create a schedule so I can travel to see all of my friends, but those are all problems for future me.

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