That seems to be the consensus among educators whenever someone addresses the problems in education. The standard response always seems to be: education is under funded. What many people do not know is, in one school district, this theory was put to a test.
The Kansas City experiment is well known in the education circles however many outside probably never heard of it. [Money And School Performance: Lessons from the Kansas City Desegregation Experiment]
A judge in Kansas City suggested that the school district come up with a "cost is no object" education plan then turned to state and local politicians to fund it. This would be the big test to either prove spending more money works, or it would disprove the theory that so many critics had discounted as a real solution.
Kansas City spared no expenses and did just what they were ordered to do. They increased teacher salaries, opened several new schools, and even built an Olympic sized swimming pool. They lowered the student/teacher ratio to 13 to 1 which was the lowest of any large school district in the county.
When all was said and done, the amount spent was 2 billion dollars.
One would think after doing all that "needed" to be done, there would be significant improvement. Unfortunately that was not the case. The results were dismal.
This experiment ended up being a costly embarrassment to those who once spouted the NEED for an increase in spending to improve education. Scores did not improve and the racial divide did not diminish. This was a set back for those who believed money would solve these problems.
Now one would think that this issue would be put to rest given the glaring results that showed education did not improve when spending was drastically increased. Unfortunately that is not the case. Even today politicians and school administrators continually cite money as the main source of their problems.
I would suggest that much of the problems in education boil down to a few major issues. Sure there are others, but when you look past the "lack of funding" excuse, what you find are, curriculum problems, lack of discipline in the schools, and the loss of local control as some of the main problems.
Parents all across the country are forming grassroots organizations to fight curriculum that’s brought into the classrooms. [Betrayed – Why Public Education Is Failing] One might wonder why parents have to "fight" anything, when they are supposed to be in control in the first place. Unfortunately curriculum is often times tied to state standardized exams. Many parents are waking up to the trend in public schools of "teaching to the test."
[End Teaching To The Test – The Petition Site]
Why do schools now teach to the test and ignore the pleas from parents for better curriculum? [Dorn defeats Bergeson] School funding is tied to those standardized tests. What that means is, if students do not pass the test, that school district risks losing federal funding per No Child Left Behind.
This ultimately makes the schools accountable to the Federal and State Govt. instead of local taxpayers and parents. Follow the money.
Compare that to a private school where parents pay tuition. If parents do not approve of curriculum, they simply remove their child and take their tuition with them. If enough parents remove their child, it sends a message to the administration via those lost tuition dollars. Follow the money.
While throwing money at schools may not fix the problems in education as we can see in the Kansas City experiment, allowing parents and taxpayers to drive these decisions with their money, can have a positive impact on education.
I don’t think any parent sees a utopia with any proposed solution to this problem however, those of us who’ve gone the private school route understand the value in having the power to control the education of OUR children and effect a school in a positive way.
[Parent satisfaction higher in private schools]
Returning local control to the community and inviting parents back into the process of educating their children, instead of fighting them, I believe would be a start to improving education.