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ERIC Number: EJ1076666
Record Type: Journal
Publication Date: 2015
Pages: 10
Abstractor: ERIC
ISSN: ISSN-0160-7561
Philosophy Rather than Finance: Redirecting the Discourse Concerning Inequitable School Funding in Illinois
Fitzgerald, Robert
Philosophical Studies in Education, v46 p52-61 2015
The funding of public education in many states, especially Illinois, is characterized by inequity. The reality is that students across the state are subject to a disparity in fiscal resources between those attending schools in the wealthiest and poorest districts. The cause of this dilemma is threefold. First, Illinois has a school finance scheme that places the primary responsibility of educational funding on local communities in relation to their property values and tax rates. Second, support for this system has come in the form of general legislative inactivity and a position of judicial deference on the part of the Illinois Supreme Court. Lastly, and most pertinent to my position in this paper, the recent discourse concerning the funding dilemma fails to consider the issue from a higher vantage point where analysis might venture beyond the positivist paradigm and into the realm of philosophical inquiry. The conjoined impact of these three factors is the ever-increasing inequity that defines public school funding in the state. This paper does not reject the importance of research that takes a finance-oriented approach to examining the issue of funding disparity between schools. Rather, it suggests an alternative avenue for considering this dilemma, one that is less rooted in fiscal analysis and more philosophical in nature. In an overarching sense, it specifically aims to reconnect the issue of inequity to the concept of justice, an approach that was at the heart of the movement concerning equality of educational opportunity that took hold in the 1960s. As the evidence presented through financial analyses has unfortunately done little to convince jurists, policy makers, and the general public of the need to enact meaningful reforms in the area of public school funding, an alternative method of consideration is warranted. In no way does this paper aim to deter future scholarship of the previous sort. It rather hopes to be a welcome addition to an important conversation for the future of education in Illinois and those students attending its public schools. Using John Rawls and Peter Gabel, the author argues that philosophical analysis rather than finance will better advance social justice in school resource distribution. From what might be termed the liberal tradition, the author promotes Rawls's Theory of Justice as a text worthy of consideration. As the funding of public education in Illinois continues to be cut and the disparity in resources between the state's wealthiest and poorest schools increases, reconsideration is required now more than ever.
Ohio Valley Philosophy of Education Society. Web site:
Publication Type: Journal Articles; Reports - Evaluative
Education Level: N/A
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A
Identifiers - Location: Illinois
Grant or Contract Numbers: N/A