Economics of Public Education
Economics and Public Education research papers report that at the beginning of the twentieth century, the system of funding that relied on local revenues actually facilitated the success of the nascent public education system. However, today, with economic disparity nearing record levels, this system of localized funding no longer reflects the parity of educational opportunity that is a defining characteristic of our nation's schools. Currently, many lawmakers are considering the widespread introduction of voucher funding in order to ameliorate this disparity and improve quality through increasing competition.
Public Education and the Economy
The United States today recognizes that the nation's economic stability is closely related to the quality of educational offerings provided by the nation's public schools, which provide the learning for roughly 95% of American children. However, this recognition seems to have taken hold largely in theory, and has not yet been translated into increased fiscal support for the nation's school system. Because our current approach to budgetary planning and fiscal management is grounded largely in short-term thinking, it has been virtually impossible for lawmakers to translate a recognition of the long-term economic impact of education to a long-term plan to bolster school quality with increased funding.
Economic Stability and Public Education
In the near future, it seems likely that the connection between economic stability and prosperity and quality in public education will become even more apparent, prompting tangible changes in the way American children learn. One of the most influential pieces of legislature that affected the economics of public education was the Goals 2000 Act, which was contained in the National Education Goals 2000 legislation passed during the administration of G.H.W. Bush and signed into law during the Clinton administration on March 31, 1994. The Goals 2000 Act aimed to: provide a general framework for education reform while lending some support to the unique directions to which states and local communities have already committed themselves. However, reflective of the increasing emphasis on standardization, the Act also requires the states to establish high standards pertaining to what their students are expected to know and to be able to do. Primarily in exchange for designing or updating their education improvement strategies, by 1996 48 of the states, as well as the District of Columbia (DC), Puerto Rico, the Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA), and all of the outlying territories had received funds in the first year of the enactment of the Goals 2000 Act.
The Goals 2000 Act contained some highly optimistic goals, including the aims of:
- Increasing the national high school graduation rate to "at least" 90 percent;
- Ensuring that American students were the first in the world in scientific and mathematical achievement;
- Guaranteeing that "all" students would learn to use their minds in a manner favorable to "responsible citizenship, further learning, and productive employment in our modern economy;
- Ensuring that "every" school in the nation would be free of drugs and violence and offer "a disciplined environment conducive to learning".
Perhaps because Goals 2000 was so glaringly overambitious and unrealistic to begin with, it was hardly considered a great national tragedy when the year 2000 arrived and it became obvious that America had fallen far short of attaining the goals set forth in the legislation