Mar 14, 2014
Another Win for the Koch Brothers: Underfunded Public Schools
Posted on Sep 20, 2013
American public schools still receive less annual per-student funding from state budgets than they did before the onset of the Great Recession, a significant lag with worrisome consequences for a system already facing performance pressure from political and policy leaders, according to a new report by the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities.
“Restoring school funding should be an urgent priority,” the study advised. Though with anti-spending conservatives controlling half the nation’s state legislatures, reversing that trend doesn’t seem likely—especially as the Koch brothers-backed American Legislative Exchange Council continues to buy such significant influence.
The impacts are significant as most localities are unable to replace the lost state revenues with local taxes. That means fewer resources for schools, larger class sizes and a significant hit to local economies after school districts cut some 324,000 positions. “These job losses have reduced the purchasing power of workers’ families, in turn reducing overall economic consumption, and thus deepened the recession and slowed the pace of recovery,” the report says.
But the bigger risk is to the nation’s economic future.
Part of the problem is a reduction in federal aid to states, which then gets passed on to the local schools. But the core issue is funding priorities at the state level, and the persistence of the recession itself, which while technically over, has left stubbornly high unemployment and underemployment, and less money in consumers’ pockets, putting a drag on state tax revenues.
That means that yes, we can blame Wall Street—and globalization—for some of this. And, of course, ALEC, which is warping public spending priorities as it works at systematically dismantling public education.
—Posted by Scott Martelle.
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