Magazine article Phi Kappa Phi Forum

An American Issue. (Forum on Education & Academics)

Magazine article Phi Kappa Phi Forum

An American Issue. (Forum on Education & Academics)

Article excerpt

Toward the end of the French and Indian War, George III became the British monarch, inheriting not only an empire that spanned the globe, but also the responsibility of paying an enormous debt incurred in that Seven Years' War. Unwilling to further risk the rebellious wrath of his European subjects who, for years, had been paying high taxes, George turned to his American colonies for increased revenue, imposed the presence of ten thousand British soldiers and all the related costs of maintaining such troops, and followed that with a series of unwelcome taxes, leaving for all time a bitter taste for taxation in these colonies. The long, expensive war that had extended to four continents had begun, after all, in the Americans' own back yard.

The United States today is facing an economic challenge that encompasses increased military costs, rising public-safety expenses, and the continuing expectation that each generation will enjoy a standard of living that equals or exceeds that of preceding generations. But with increases in personal income slowing, and with an overall tightening of personal spending, voters in many states willingly elect governors who promise to lower taxes at the state level, despite tax decreases already enacted at the federal level, leaving the burden of funding public services to the local tax base. Educational expenses, increasingly reliant on local real-estate taxes, are, after all, costs incurred in the taxpayers' own backyard.

Educators operate under difficult constraints: an effort to increase local revenues is met with local resistance; seeking higher state and federal contributions incurs widely organized resistance. Allocating taxes to meet escalating costs is somehow seen as wasteful spending. Year after year, school districts go before local taxpayers and ask for funding as a child might approach a parent for an allowance. Some needs are met; many are not.

American parents, dedicated to securing that quality standard of living for their children, readily acknowledge the importance of education. Often, parents seek ways to "be involved" in their local education system, as they hear constantly that such involvement is the best route toward ensuring that their children will be successful. Early in the year, parents will ask their child's teacher, "How can I help?" They are sincere. They are not, however, always aware of what might really be needed.

School personnel have an opportunity and an obligation to clarify what schools need from parents and from other volunteers in the local community: a strong, well-defended budget that logically, predictably, and annually increases to keep pace with inflation, with increased enrollments and expanding, mandated curriculum requirements, and with ordinary maintenance expenses. Each day staff members witness the effects of reduced services created by level-funded budgets: less direct supervision of children before and after the academic day, larger classes that limit student/teacher interactions, and aging buildings that require repairs so extensive that ordinary cleaning is a lower priority. Schools know of crowded bus routes that start children's days with a harried tone and of double-run buses that leave children waiting in a limbo between the classroom and the home. …

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

Oops!

An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.