|A diagram of the education |
system in the United States.
(Photo credit: Wikipedia)
The author suggests changing the property tax payment system (see below). Changing the basic funding of public schools from property-based taxation has been suggested before but it is getting new attention. Property-based taxation was surely a way to fund the physical infrastructure when the drive to get schools built was the imperative. But now some wealthier schools want permission to ramp up spending even as districts cut other schools to the bone or close them entirely. The new "crime" of theft of education has been prosecuted.
Poor neighborhoods lose their schools and their investment when systems close schools. Chicago charters have given up on the neighborhood school entirely and only guarantee a seat in the system even as they fund charters and preserve wealthy enclaves exempt from means-testing: public means anyone above a certain income level. And this happens when we have the ability to network schools in new ways, ways that would allow local hubs and networked interactions in ways the factory model never envisioned.
And I am guessing schools will need two-tiers: schools that have a local funding tie and someday a possible Federal role. The physical schools need preserved as neighborhood anchors and in a time of climate change and local economy building, communities need community spaces. But there are strong reasons to begin networking kids to schools and centers as the ability to provide services online grows. This would allow different social and learning networks to develop within communities and that would boost the local economy, pushback against segregation, and enable teachers as well to collaborate.
The four ways to really fix education (that no one wants to hear) – Quartz:This is hugely controversial, but it has clearly shaped much of the American experience for a century. Property taxes have largely financed American public education, with very little federal funding. As wealthy zip codes can spend more on education, the overall system becomes uneven and reinforces skill gaps and socio-economic divides.
If we could start with a blank slate and look around the world, we would probably institute state and federal funding in public education like virtually every other country, and not fund education largely through property taxes. This would create a far more even system. For those who want to opt out of the public system, there will always be private alternatives. A political impossibility? Maybe, but not insurmountable if implemented over a 30-year period, for example, with re-balancing over time from real estate taxes towards state and local income taxes.