Taxpayers send strong message: public schools need adequate funding


by Brian Washington

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Taxpayers are demonstrating what educators have known all along—that the general public has great confidence in their public schools.

The latest example of this confidence came last month in New York state, where voters approved 98 percent of the school budgets up for a vote. A survey by the State School Boards Association found 652 school districts witnessed voters approve their budgets. And out of the 645 districts that stayed within the state’s mandated property tax cap, 99.5 percent saw their budgets pass.

Karen E. Magee, an elementary education teacher who now serves as president of the New York State United Teachers, which represents educators all across the state, said the public’s overwhelming support comes as no surprise.

“New York’s public schools do a great job. Parents and community members know it, and that confidence in teachers and school staff led to another ringing endorsement of responsible school budgets that invest in students and programs, and help move public education forward.”

Another outstanding example of taxpayers showing support for neighborhood public schools comes from Wisconsin, where voters recently launched “Project 13.” Project 13 is designed to shed light on Wisconsin’s broken school funding system and Governor Scott Walker’s misguided priorities.

During his first term in office, Walker has implemented over $1 billion in cuts to public education, given huge tax cuts to the wealthy, and failed to deliver on his campaign promise of delivering 250,000 new jobs.

However, last year Walker used $100 million in unexpected revenues to provide property tax relief to homeowners under the current school funding formula. The move resulted in a meager $13 refund for the average homeowner.

That’s when voters launched Project 13 to encourage taxpayers to give the $13 property tax credit back to local schools. In Eau Claire, close to 50 people lined up outside a local school board meeting in April to donate their checks to the district, which has about 11,000 students. The town received more than 200 checks with contributions ranging from $13 to $50.

As local resident Steve Anderson explained in a letter to the editor of his local newspaper, the program has been a “rousing success.”

“People were asked to take what amounts to 25 cents per week or a little more than 3 cents a day—pocket change—and apply it for ‘real change’ in public education and to send a message that communities and the state should be ‘investing’ this money in our children,” wrote Anderson, who is calling upon other communities throughout the state to get involved and show their support for public schools as well.

Teachers and education support professionals are deeply committed to the success of every child. And now it’s time for communities to rally around their public schools and urge our elected officials to invest in the classroom priorities that build the foundation for student learning including:

  • Early childhood learning opportunities
  • Smaller class sizes to give educators more one-on-one time with students
  • Up-to-date textbooks and computers; and
  • Equal school funding.

Click here to get involved and find out how you help all students gain access to a quality public education.

Reader Comments

  1. Our public schools in Michigan receive per pupil funding based on an antiquated system established years ago. Rather than unilaterally agreeing on needed school funding reforms, Legislators willingly drain money from our already depleted public school budgets by siphoning off educational funds for charter schools and cyber schools, which do not provide necessary services for kids such as early intervention, speech therapy, counseling, the arts, cultural diversity awareness/appreciation and the overall socialization skills needed to function in a global society. Michigan, which used to be a leader in education, has been rapidly losing its top educators to other states. Public education, just like the roads in Michigan, has been neglected and suffered from a patchwork of bandaid “fixes” for too long. Young people and families will continue their exodus from Michigan until legislators understand the importance of providing a quality education for all students who reside in the state. Until public schools again have the resources to meet the needs of the “whole child,” Michigan will continue lose it’s educational standing in the national rankings.

  2. Now if we could just get charter and cyber schools off the public dole, the school budgets could be more reasonable. Our small school system (we graduated 80 students this year) paid out $600,000 to cyber/charter schools this past year.

    1. I totally agree with Jean. Charter and private schools should be responsible for their own financial status. The public school teachers and staffs work very hard to educate our children and should be funded with adequate means to do so.

  3. We need more funding for our public schools. Without the funding, where would our children be? Without education, that’s where.

  4. Our public schools are routinely underfunded and incapable of meeting all the needs of children and their parents. For this reason it is foolish to waste a vote on a Republican. This is especially true in the 8th Congress District of Florida. Don’t waste a vote on the Tea Party incumbent. Vote instead for Gabriel Rothblatt.

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