Education is one of the major directions of every country’s financing – students and pupils are the future of every nation, thus making education a strategic investment. One can witness the growing attention to education funding all over the world, as well as gradual improvement and raising revenues to schools, higher educational establishments and other institutions taking up education in varied ways.
Despite the fact that education is being financed ever better, there are still problems and blind spots in this sphere, as in every other one – the USA is not an exception in the discussed issue. Statistical data show that the financing has been doubled for less than 20 years; however, it is still considered to be inadequate.
It is necessary to look at the figure more closely in order to get a clear idea of what the current tendencies in education financing are. According to the Public Education Finances Report in 2006 the figures were the following: expenditures per student were $14,884 in New York, $14,630 in New Jersey, $13,446 in District of Columbia, $6,472 in Arizona, $6,440 in Idaho and $5,437 in Utah (Madison 2008).
As it has already been mentioned, the funding rates are gradually rising from year to year, and the 2006 results were not an exception: public schools spent $9,138 per pupil, which exceeded the previous year results for $437. Overall spending for elementary and secondary education comprised $451 billion: $271.8 billion were attributed for elementary and secondary instruction; $184.4 billion were spent for salaries; $58.5 billion – for employee benefits and $156 billion – for support services (12.4% of which was devoted to transportation). It is also necessary to take into consideration the fact that average spending per pupil from local sources comprised $4,779 (Madison 2009).
However, it is as well noticeable that despite the increasing figures of funding the school debt also prove d to be increasing:
Total school district debt increased by 8.5 percent from the prior year to $332.7 billion in the fiscal year 2006 (Madison 2008).
At the present moment, at the beginning of the year 2009 the tendency to increase funding of education is also aggravated by the effort of the new President of the United States Barack Obama who insists on considerable funding raise – the economic stimulus plan proposed by him includes additional $150 million of federal funding. Such financial money inflow will more than double the budget of the Department of Education, as it was stated by the New York Times (Dillon 2009).
The innovations introduced in the legislation of the USA are varied, however, it is already clear that no district and no state will be left without additional funding:
The level received per student would vary considerably by state, according to an analysis by the New America Foundation, a research group that monitors education spending. New York would be among the biggest beneficiaries, at $760 per student, while New Jersey and Connecticut would fall near the bottom, with $427 and $409 per student, respectively. The District of Columbia would get the most per student, $1,289, according to the foundation’s analysis (Dillon 2009).
Speaking more precisely about the New York state it becomes obvious from the previously given data that this state is one of the country’s leaders in terms of financing education. Judging from the figures of $51.4 billion total spending and $14,884 of spending per student one can see that financing of the New York state exceeds the average country level by 63 percent (2009-2010 Executive Budget – Briefing Book 2009).
From the current history of education financing one can see that financing of schools grew by 48 percent, together with state spending on special educational programs growing by 8 percent (up to $135 billion).
In connection with this pessimistic statistics the local New York state government has decided to reduce the expenditures for education trying to bring them into cohesion with the overall national expenditures. This way, the first step of funding decrease is planned for the 2009-2010 schooling year. School Aid is given $20.7 million by the executive budget, thus reducing the funding rate by 3.3 percent. Overall educational funding will be reduced by 3.4 percent (2009-2010 Executive Budget – Briefing Book 2009).
Of course the shortage of funds will be too recognizable at the very beginning of the new policy implementation. Thus, the question is raised on where to take funds to close the gaps that are certain to appear – funding has to be taken out of some spheres. However, a constructive way out was found – there have been designed a number of gap-closing initiatives that will help eliminate the shortage, e.g. Formula-based School Aid Reduction, elimination of funding for teacher centers, elimination of funding for Math/Science initiatives, reduction of supplemental funding to the Roosevelt Union Free School District etc (2009-2010 Executive Budget – Briefing Book 2009).
The overall picture of education funding in the USA seems to be highly promising and optimistic – under the condition of the stimulus plan fulfillment all educational establishments in the country will receive an adequate level of funding. However, the problem of excessive funding is still aching for some states such as the New York state, so a set of measures to reduce expenditures appears to be of vital importance.
2009-2010 Executive Budget – Briefing Book. Web.
Dillon, S. (2009). Stimulus Plan Would Provide Flood of Aid to Education. Web.
Madison, J. (2008). Education spending, per pupil, apples to apples. Web.