This research paper aims to provide an insight into the benefits of the New Jersey school funding system. The paper will provide a review of its reliability. Further, the paper will compare the school funding system in New Jersey and other funding systems performed in other states. In conclusion, the paper examines the impact of the funding system in New Jersey.
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The New Jersey School funding program has seen many changes over the years. Listokin (74) noted that before the legislation was passed to start a school funding system, “education was only accessible to the few privileged”.This saw students from less privileged districts not able to access quality education as their matching students. The subject of equalizing school funding processes across districts is an issue that has been a concern since formal institutions of education were fixed. Johnson (213) states the funding for schools relies on taxes collected from a local property. In essence, this means that schools placed in residential and commercial areas with properties of high value receive a significant fund as opposed to schools placed in areas with the property of a lower value.
According to Listokin (87) “problems facing the New Jersey systems of education are well showed in this system of sourcing for funds”. This is in their search to provide equitable funding for all students. This system recognizes a need to provide equitable funding for all districts across New Jersey regardless of whether it is a poor district or rich. Educational funding for New Jersey is mainly pooled from the general fund, funds from the state lottery, relief funds from property taxes, and tax from cigarettes. The decision on budgetary share for each school is done at the district level by the school board in each district.
The school’s allocation mainly depends on the local financial capacity. In their search for an equitable fund for all districts, new ways had to be worked to ensure the dream of equitable funding for all schools is reached. Bowsher (284) clearly explains that Abbott districts, which is the name are referring to schools in poorer districts that received inadequate funding, which could not cater to student needs. This increased the disparity between students in wealthier districts and the Abbott districts.
The funding formula was long challenged in the Supreme Court in the case Abbott vs. Burke. In a landmark ruling, the court resolved the funding formula was unconstitutional. Further, the court declared the districts represented in the suit had particular needs for facilities and school programs (Bowsher 263). The ruling saw a new funding formula being adopted to replace the earlier formula that brought about disparities. The new formula ensured the low-value districts could enjoy funding the same as high-value districts. Besides, introducing new programs was practiced and this improved early childhood education, new facilities for schools provided, and reforms that were based on successful teaching methods (Nutbrown 151). In the new system, students are entitled to unpaid public education provided in the communities they live in.
Education in New Jersey is noted as a state responsibility. To guarantee quality and affordable education for all, the New Jersey Committee of education implemented the curriculum content criteria, a comprehensive scheme of financing educational services envisioned in the All-inclusive Educational Expansion and Financing Deed.
Benefits of Education Funding
Education funding is done in district schools that have low-income students enrolled in the state of New Jersey. New Jersey has been described as a national leader in school funding with more focus being directed towards its excellence. New Jersey has been fortunate in keeping off acute teacher shortages experienced in other areas of the nation. In preserving satisfactory numbers of talented teachers, initiatives are designed to draw new teachers to New Jersey. For instance, Litkosin (54) notes that teachers who agree to take up teaching positions in Abbott districts are given incentives, which include “Laptop computers and scrapping of their student loans”.
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Introducing a new public funding system to district schools in New Jersey has benefited Abbott schools that can now claim to have the same quality of education as the schools in wealthier districts. This has ensured that students regardless of their financial status can access quality education.
Differences or Inequality in Quality of Education
A child’s wealth should not be a basis in fixing if he or she gets a quality education. Public schools funding is a huge issue that influences many people. Across the country, there are major issues of unequal funding of public schools. There are differences are brought about by the absence of public support and lack of government commitment.
New Jersey is among the states that have successfully put in place an education system that ensures equality (Johnson124). Compared with other states, New Jersey has proved that in pursuit of quality education, states need to reevaluate the ways in which funds are paid out. Public support is needed for the vision of equal education to be achieved. Moreover, it is everyone’s responsibility to make sure that America’s generations to come are highly skilled and can access quality education, regardless of whether the students are from poor families or otherwise. With public schools receiving inadequate funds, more students from poor backgrounds are continually put at a disadvantage, as they cannot equally compete with their well-funded counterparts. Missouri, as opposed to New Jersey, has seen fund cuts that are directed towards public school funding, this means that fewer teachers are hired.
Public schools will have huge numbers of students that are “well-known to impact negatively on the quality of education to students” (Johnson 214). Abbott districts having been dissatisfied with the school funding systems move to court to challenge the funding formula. This has seen rulings that differ from state to state. For example, in 1989, San Antonio, Texas ruled and noted the disparity in school funding was not envisioned in its constitution. Later an equalizing system of funding was passed. In the state of Maryland, the funding system was agreed at 75 percent.
Problems in the US public school funding system are far much complex than assumed. The general public opinion tilts towards the desire that the state ensures that all students access quality education without a compromise. As seen above, school expenditures differ from one state to another. This difference can be attributed to input costs being different from state to state. For instance, salaries for teachers and real estate prices differ across states. Consequently, there exist huge disparities in education expenditure across different states. Utah for example spends half of what New Jersey spends on each student. More and more states should be looking at ways of making public school education equitable for all students. This is worthwhile given public schools are well known to stick to the set curriculum. Standards set by the federal regulator are strictly adhered to while applying standardized modes of teaching. With such standardization, it is an injustice when some students suffer due to underfunding.
Bowsher, Jack. Fix Schools First: Blueprint For Achieving Learning Standards. Maryland: Aspen Publishers Inc, 2001.
Johnson, Eleanor. School Finance: State Efforts to Reduce Funding Gaps between Poor and Wealthy District. Pennsylvania: Diane Publishing, 1999.
Listokin, David. Funding Education: Problems, Patterns, Solutions. New Jersey: Rutgers University, 1972.
Nutbrown, Cathy. Key Concepts in Early Childhood Education & Care. California: Sage Publications, 2006.