Although counterintuitive, with property tax funding for public schools emerges a large problem; people want schools to have inequality. It all comes down to this- rich homeowners want to pay for their schools in their neighborhoods, merely because it makes the value of their community increase and makes their area look better than the surrounding regions. The rich families know that they pay a higher property tax rate than the next town, but if this money is going towards a better reputation for them and for their surrounding schools, they are more than happy to give that money up. They know that their schools are better funded, that their students have a higher chance of success, and because of these statements, the homes in the area hold their value. People will want to move to areas where the community’s are elegant, with financially stable schools that acquire more than necessary to implement their children’s success. This is why homeowner’s support the property tax funding of schools. They disregard the condition of the schools in areas of poverty or low-income. These places don’t seem to matter to them at all. They want their schools to be superior, but what they do not realize is that this unequal expenses on schools create the achievement gap as aforementioned. Homeowners want to control the local government and its taxes because it directly benefits their homes, their neighborhoods,and their schools.
An article taken from JSTOR titled “Homevoters, Municipal Corporate Governance, and The Benefit View of The Property Tax,” states that “ The more general issue that homevoting addresses is why school quality has fallen in California and, apparently, in other states that have traveled down a similar path away from local control of school finances.” This shows that states are recognizing this immense gap between student success in contrasting areas, but no one has yet to make an action on this issue. People are hesitant to believe such a gap exists because the test scores are seemingly close in comparison, but what the people do not know is that this is because the highly-funded schools are actually being “dumbed-down” and taught less efficiently than they are supposed to be taught. This makes the people think that the difference between schools in poor and rich areas is simply just the location. But, these rich families are sending their childrens to schools that they think are top of the line, when really, their children are learning at lower, slower levels than they should. The article states, “This is consistent with the findings by several studies that show that greater state fiscal involvement results in less efficient schooling.” Due to these reasons, the quality of schooling is not just decreasing in poor areas, but also in the rich areas as well.
So, what do we do now? Do we add more teachers to the school? The article states that if we do this, the more qualified teachers will be chosen, increasing school quality and the homes around the school. But, what about the extra money the school now needs to pay these teachers? This, in turn, would raise property taxes, which decreases home value. In turn, local voters now have to decide to choose cost-effective schools. The state legislature, however, cannot do the same for the following reasons. States are too large to see the differences between the quality of schools compared to other states. Also, adults that do not have children in school do not want to spend as much as school funding for state level than local level. People that own homes that they can one day sell to another family that does have kids are still interested in the quality of schools and the condition of the surrounding community. The third and final reason centralization causes poor results in schooling is because teacher’s unions replaces homeowners as being the most important group at state level. Although unions raise average spending per student, they make those earnings less sufficient by putting it towards work rules that they cannot acquire at the local level.
An article from The Harvard Gazette written by Christina Pazzanese states that “Your ZIP code and the exact characteristics of your parents seem to matter more,” said Lawrence Katz in an interview discussing the damaging effects of the growing achievement gap. What he means by this is that nowadays it does matter where you are raised and by whom,one parent or two, in a rich community or poor, for these aspects determine your fate. This is an appalling way to look at the achievement gap, but it is sadly true. Katz calls the diversion “The rich and the rest”, implying that it seems to be that if you are not rich, you do not deserve a category, or a name. If you are not rich, you are the “rest”, the people who struggle to get by, who don’t have high quality schools or neighborhoods. Being rich doesn’t necessarily mean who can buy the most expensive things, for it now means being rich determines whether or not you are successful in your future career path or not. This has changed the way young children think, which is perhaps the saddest part of it all. We no longer consider ourselves successful if we are not rich, from high income places, and land a job making over a hundred thousand per year. Our actual intelligence doesn’t even determine our success because of property tax and the achievement gap.
Katz continues to say, “Smart poor kids are less likely to graduate from college now than dumb rich kids. That’s not because of the schools, that’s because of all the advantages that are available to rich kids.” Something has to change if we want to give the youth, the future of America an equal education. Their fates are decided before they can even speak, before they can crawl. The United States education system is truly at its lowest point, and it all derives directly from the way schools are funded.
Fischel, W. A. (n.d.). Homevoters, Municipal Corporate Governance,and the Benefit of the Property Tax. doi:10.3897/bdj.4.e7720.figure2f
The costs of inequality: Increasingly, it’s the rich and the rest. (2017, December 20). Retrieved from https://news.harvard.edu/gazette/story/2016/02/the-costs-of-inequality-increasingly-its-the-rich-and-the-rest/