(10th in a series on Education)
Stephen C. Antalics Jr. of Bethlehem is a retired scientist and entrepreneur. He is also Gadfly #1.
Note from Stephen as present context for his 2015 article: The process of using real estate taxes to fund the state’s public school systems creates a difficulty for districts with a low real estate average, for these poorer districts must now share their meagre funds with the charter schools, thereby depriving already burdened students of higher qualified teachers and needed supplies like text books, etc. So, the real estate values also determine the quality of education. The plan below is a radical approach.
“Is it time for radical change in public education?” Morning Call, September 15, 2015.
“Sen. Lloyd Smucker, a Republican and chairman of the state Senate Education Committee, is proposing legislation [this is 2015] that could put poorly performing school districts under state control.”
“Sen. Andrew Dinniman, a Democrat and minority chairman of the Education Committee, noted that the majority of the schools that fail are in poor urban areas. Poverty becomes the common denominator among poorly performing schools.”
“Many school districts derive a high proportion of school revenue from real estate taxes. It follows that those communities with high property values have necessary revenues to invest to make their district superior.”
“This is quite clearly supported by the fact that school districts in the most affluent communities are rated among the best in performance and those in poverty areas are among the lowest. Is it fair that intelligent children living in poverty-stricken districts be deprived of an education equal in quality afforded to children in affluent districts?”
“The Pennsylvania System of School Assessment is a standardized test administered to public schools to determine the quality of the education in all districts. Can such a standardized test work when the districts are far from standardized — i.e., standardized being equal opportunity afforded to each student? It appears that the PSSAs measure more learning opportunity rather than student ability.”
“One radical approach could be for the state to take over all school districts. Each district could receive 100 percent of necessary funds from state income and sales taxes. This would eliminate the need for personal school real estate taxes, thereby ending possible foreclosures on homes of poverty-level families or seniors on fixed incomes.”
“Clearly, the state’s system of public education, by allowing a class system founded on affluence, is not working. Is it time for a radical change? Nothing might be lost but there is much to gain — better educated children.”
3 thoughts on “Charter schools and real estate taxes (10)”
I agree with most of what Professor Antalics had to say. For one, I would like to see the State take over funding of public education for all school districts, funding, not running. Leave the local school boards in place. Fund each school district on a per-student basis. Allow affluent school district to accept donations from affluent residents. With regard to Professor Antalics’ last statement, “Nothing might be lost but there is much to gain — better educated children,” I cannot agree. There is no assurance that there would be better-educated children, but it might be that each child is given an equal opportunity. And I would submit that the PSSAs measure attainment, as opposed to “learning opportunity” or “student ability.”
The state Constitution requires the state legislature to adequately fund a system of public education.
Eliminating local property tax as a funding source will allow more equitable funding — but corporations & businesses will pay less and individuals will pay more.
If you allow individual donations—especially if tax-exempt—you’re back to a system where a district’s funding depends on residents’ wealth or income.
Quote 1. “but corporations & businesses will pay less and individuals will pay more.” An assumption on your part, and you know what assumptions do. Let all pay more taxes, corporations, businesses, and individuals.
Quote 2. “If you allow individual donations—especially if tax-exempt—you’re back to a system where a district’s funding depends on residents’ wealth or income.” Who said donations would be tax-exempt? Another assumption on your part. Should wealthy individuals be precluded from making contributions to their children’s school district? Even today? Should wealthy individuals be precluded from sending their child to a private school? If a wealthy individual paid taxes to support the school district that their child resides in and they decided to send their child to a private school, so be it. I don’t think egalitarianism is a natural part of human nature. Water doesn’t easily travel up hill.