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ERIC Number: EJ879332
Record Type: Journal
Publication Date: 2010
Pages: 8
Abstractor: ERIC
Reference Count: N/A
ISBN: N/A
ISSN: ISSN-1539-9664
The Phony Funding Crisis
Guthrie, James W.; Peng, Arthur
Education Next, v10 n1 p12-19 Win 2010
If one relies on newspaper headlines for education funding information, one might conclude that America's schools suffer from a perpetual fiscal crisis, every year perched precariously on the brink of financial ruin, never knowing whether there will be sufficient funding to continue operating. Budgetary shortfalls, school district bankruptcies, teacher and administrator layoffs, hiring and salary freezes, pension system defaults, shorter school years, ever-larger classes, faculty furloughs, fewer course electives, reduced field trips, foregone or curtailed athletics, outdated textbooks, teachers having to make do with fewer supplies, cuts in school maintenance, and other tales of fiscal woe inevitably captivate the news media, particularly during the late-spring and summer budget and appropriations seasons. Yet somehow, as the budget-planning cycle concludes and schools open their doors in the late summer and fall, virtually all classrooms have instructors, teachers receive their paychecks and use their health plans, athletic teams play, and textbooks are distributed. Regrettably, this story is seldom accorded the same media attention as are the prospects of budget reductions and teacher layoffs. For a variety of reasons, from one year to the next, schools almost always have more real revenue for each of their enrolled students. For the past hundred years, with rare and short exceptions and after controlling for inflation, public schools have had both more money and more employees per student in each succeeding year. Teacher salaries have increased more than 42 percent in constant dollars over the past half century, while educators' working conditions, health plans, and retirement arrangements have become ever more commodious. Moreover, school-related revenues and employment levels have increased even when the economy (as measured by Gross Domestic Product or GDP) turned down, unlike what typically happens in sectors such as manufacturing and retail sales, where recessions trigger cutbacks in personnel and profits. Now, local school funding is apparently more secure than ever before. For the first time in history, the federal government has assumed a dramatic new school-funding role, that of banker of last resort, providing stopgap revenues to the nation's schools during economic downturns. The Obama administration's unprecedented injection of billions in federal funding for schools likely ensures that education's resource cushion will continue for at least the current downturn and possibly for much longer. (Contains 5 figures.)
Hoover Institution. Stanford University, Stanford, CA 94305-6010. Tel: 800-935-2882; Fax: 650-723-8626; e-mail: educationnext@hoover.stanford.edu; Web site: http://www.hoover.org/publications/ednext
Publication Type: Journal Articles; Reports - Descriptive
Education Level: Elementary Secondary Education
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A
Identifiers - Location: California
Identifiers - Laws, Policies, & Programs: Elementary and Secondary Education Act; No Child Left Behind Act 2001; Proposition 13 (California 1978)