09 March 2012

They always say time changes things, but you actually have to change them yourself.

Andy Warhol

 

Right now, in America, the quality of your public education is completely dependent on how rich your parents are. This needs to change.

The mechanics of this work as follows. When public schools were first instituted, they were supposed to be funded primarily by the state. However, the law was quickly changed to move the funding from the state to the local level. As a result, rich people gather together in the same neighborhoods, and their local taxes all go to the same schools that their kids go to. Since the rich people pay more in taxes than poor people, the kids in the rich neighborhoods each get a lot more money for their public education in comparison to the poor kids.

Take Illinois as an example. The city of Chicago pays $13,615 per student per year for education. In Winnetka, a very close suburb of Chicago, each student gets $26,015 per year for schooling. Over the course of their school careers, the rich students in Winnetka will have had $173,600 more than their Chicago peers in public education funding.

From the viewpoint of federal and state governments, both rich kids and poor kids are equal citizens and have equal rights and responsibilities under the law. Both have the right to an education paid for by the government. The fact that the government is giving the rich kids an extra $173,600 for education is terrible. The laws requiring kids to go to school are federal and state laws, and the federal and state governments, not local governments, should be the ones responsible for funding education.

This has many unintended consequences that go beyond just the amount of money that kids get for education. Rich people and poor people have little social interaction, and this has disastrous effects on our society. I had the benefit of growing up in a community where rich and poor people lived in the same neighborhoods, went to the same synagogues, ate in each other’s houses, and sent their kids to the same schools, and know firsthand how this helps the community function harmoniously.

Other consequences include the overall level of education being much lower. Who doesn’t think that if rich people and politicians had to send their kids to an “average public school” that the average public school education would go up dramatically?

This is obviously not something that politicians want to discuss, since politicians get their campaign contributions from rich people who are benefiting from this, and not from the poor people who are suffering. However, it is something that needs to change.