(Un)Justifying Property Tax Funding for Public Schools
Although property taxes for public school funding are commonly frowned upon, especially when concerning the low-income families struggling to obtain stability, most fail to see the importance of property taxes when it comes to funding schools. Property taxes contribute to a constant flow of income to schools. In a report published by The Lincoln Institute of Land Policy, titled “The Property Tax-School Funding Dilemma,” it states that half of all property tax revenue in the United States is used to fund public primary and secondary schools.” This means that if property taxes were to be diminished or cut, in turn, the money would have to come from somewhere else- perhaps another form of tax under a different name than “property tax”. Another benefit of property tax is that those who do have a large amount of money inherited are able to pay more to the community, which would give the schools more money in the long run. People who own houses usually obtain more cash than those who rent homes, hence why homeowners are taxed more. If they make more money, they can give more back to the schools. Another reason property taxes fund schools is because the more money is put into a school system, the better it benefits the children. More money coming in will purchase supplies and books for the children that are vital to their education.
In a frequently asked questions tab on the National Conference of State Legislature website, it states that the property tax funding of schools is here, in use, and they plan on keeping it this way for a long time. If we were to eliminate the property tax funding, the funds would have to come from some other tax, whether it be income, sales or excise tax, which are more likely to change than property taxes. If property taxes were gone, sales tax would need to be increased more than just the 7% it is now. Everything would then be more expensive than what we pay now, and there is no say on how much more things would cost. It could be 15% tax, perhaps even a startling 20%. The property tax method is more stable and secure than the sales tax or income tax would be, and for that reason, people have a hard time imagining what it would be like if we were to abolish the property tax funding of schools.
The National Association of Home Builders Discusses Economics and Housing Policy(NAHB) website shows data that in 2009, $591 billion dollars were collected in the U.S used specifically for elementary and secondary education. These property taxes were accountable for 65% of the school revenues as well as 29% of school funding. The data shows that the more property taxes taken out correlates to the size and accomplishments of the school systems.
People can argue property taxes have many benefits when it comes down to a firm way to produce a constant income of money to the school systems. With that being said, I would like to introduce why property taxes do the opposite of good. The property taxes in different areas vary, higher-income areas give more money than low-income families simply because they have more money to give. They live in nicer areas, with bigger communities and nicer things. Low-income families struggle to feed their children, to put clean clothes on them in the morning. Due to property taxes being so high, they can only afford so much. These children, in turn, are sent to school with the least qualified teachers, with the least amount of history, and the least amount of school supplies. They then receive less of an education than those that live in high-income communities. This is exactly what causes the widening achievement gap- the difference in money going into schools. Low-income schools have less money to spend per student than high-income schools do. An article on Huffington Post titled “School Funding Inequality Makes Education ‘Separate and Unequal,'” states that 6.6 million students from low-income areas in 23 states are harmed directly by local fundings. It is said that federal funding could be used to help pay for schools, but it is not supposed to be used to balance the local and state funds. Instead, this method would take away from the schools. We need to realize that children from low-income families live a difficult life. Some, if not most, walk into school in the morning with an empty stomach and thin, tapered clothing. Most of them encounter abuse at home, and live in run-down neighborhoods filled with crime and drug use. Then, they are sent to a school that does not allow them to grow due to the lack of resources in said school. This is why property tax funding of schools needs to be eliminated. Children in high-income areas have more resources than they actually use and need at the schools they attend while low-income students, just as deserving of a full education, sit in old, rocky desks, struggling to get by with the materials they do have, which is very little. We need to realize it is time to give back to the children, and property taxes are destroying America’s youth and their chances at becoming successful.
So, while others may argue that property taxes are “the only way”, I find it hard to believe that the only way to help students in schools is by taking away from them, by not giving them what they need. Arne Duncan states that “The children who need the most seem to be getting less and less, and the children who need the least get more and more.” There simply must be another way. These children deserve an equal education.