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The Bottom Line Taxpayers Should Question the K-12 System


The K-12 education system requests more money from state budgets every year. Yet student performance has flatlined. Commenting on the issue in an article on Edweek.org entitled, “Public Torn Between Support for School Spending and Actually Paying the Tab,” the author notes that  “K-12 spending in recent years has eaten up a larger and larger share of states’ tax revenue. On average, K-12 spending takes up more than a quarter of states’ budgets. And while recent polls show swelling support for more money going toward schools, there remains sentiment among the general public that taxes are too high”

So the question regarding school funding is “how to do it in a fair, equitable, and effective way that won’t create a backlash among business leaders and taxpayers.”

Of course, taxpayers want to fund the K-12 system as an investment in future generations. However, throwing money at an antiquated system will simply provide poor results. It’s no wonder why taxpayers are reluctant to foot the bill on education. As American Center for Transforming Education program chair Don Nielsen states in his book Every School,“our education system is stuck in time, training students for a world that no longer exists. Absent profound change to our schools, adults will keep piling up on life’s sidelines, jeopardizing the survival of civil society. While not preordained, this is where America is headed.” To make real progress we must fundamentally transform the public education system.  

So, before we continue to “ride the wave of perceived public support for education to push local tax levies and bond issues,” we should be working to fix the system. This must start with a state that is courageous enough to take the task head on by  changing state laws. As Nielsen rightfully asserts, “unless and until the system is changed, we should not put large amounts of new money into the existing, outdated and obsolete system. What is needed is a new system.”

Bailey Takacs

Development Program Coordinator, American Center for Transforming Education
Bailey Takacs currently serves as development program coordinator to Discovery Institutes' American Center for Transforming Education and Development team. Bailey has experiences which also include: campaign management and administrative roles with elected officials at the local, state, and federal levels of the government. He holds a B.A. in Politics and Government from Pacific Lutheran University.