Economic pressures created in the wake of the 2008 recession have caused many states to reduce funding to public education, in some cases but up to 20%. In seven states; Wisconsin, South Carolina, Idaho, Kansas, Arizona, Alabama and Oklahoma, state aid to public schools has fallen in every case by upwards of 15% to as much as 20%. The economic meltdown caused severe hardship for states because it strongly affected multiple sources of income that included property tax revenues, personal income tax, sales tax revenue and federal aid.
With more people out for work or earning less, states collected less income tax as well as sales tax since people spent less. With the housing bubble bursting and property values dropping as well as widespread foreclosures, less property tax was collected. Since public schools get about 44% of their funding from their state governments, this is a huge issue (the rest comes from local/municipal and federal sources). This, of course, resulted in teacher lay-offs, program cuts, service cuts, school closings, and many other moves that have diminished the quality and scope of public education.
Even more damaging is that most of the states with the biggest cuts were already doing badly in terms of test scores, graduation rates, and other metrics that show educational success rates. At the same time, economic pressure caused some states to actually cut their income taxes, further limiting funding. So you now have a very slowly recovering economy and poorer states that are being forced to make moves that further hinder the future success of their most vulnerable residents (kids) but reducing the effectiveness of their education.
It’s very sad to see that while we continue to waste money on building walls to keep illegal immigrants out, fight useless wars for oil in places we don’t belong, and overpay defense contractors for weapons we don’t need, our kids will enter a working world in a disadvantaged state. On the plus side, the rich are getting richer and their kids are just fine, thanks.
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Image courtesy of obrag.org.