Living the Scientific Life (Scientist, Interrupted)

Is ALL Our Children Edumacated?

A report by the Education Department was just released showing that, as usual, the existing educational inequities are being rewarded and exaggerated with inequities in distribution of education funding;

For example, the report shows Maryland has fewer poor children than Arkansas but gets about 50 percent more federal aid per poor child, $1,522, than does Arkansas, at $1,009.

The gap occurs even though Arkansas dedicates a larger share of its resources to education than does wealthier Maryland, the report says.

But on the other hand, different regions have different educational needs, so how should these be addressed fairly? Should they be addressed with competitive federal grants?

Cited story.


  1. #1 Bob O'H
    December 26, 2006

    I guess the grants should be assessed so that the ones which have poor spelling, and where the proposed accopunts don’t add up, are viewed more favourably, as they’re more needed.

    “We wont more mony, cuz we are poor and cant right good”


  2. #2 Joe Shelby
    December 26, 2006

    It’s a “matching” system, not a system based on needs.

    Federal subsidies for education tend to be allocated based on how much the state already is allocating. States that can afford more get more. Supposedly this is “fair” because otherwise certain states would be inclined to reduce their own expenditures on education if they knew they could talk the feds into paying for enough of their budget as to make it unnecessary.

    Thus, the reality is that poor states simply remain poor, and “no child left behind” does nothing to resolve this issue.

    So it depends on what one calls “fair”. If fair is every child gets an equal amount by the feds regardless of the states, then it’s unfair and inequitable. If fair is every state remains required to show that they are willing to support the students for federal government to support the state’s support equitably, then it’s “just right”.

    The richer states have no incentive to change the system, so it’s unlikely to be changed anytime soon.

  3. #3 Kevin
    December 26, 2006

    Hmm. Has the study corrected for buying power? Or perhaps the allocations have? That varies from state to state. I can buy a heck of a lot more in Alabama per $1000 than I can here in Los Angeles. What specifically is the money used for? Perhaps for most school expenses, $1500 in Maryland gets you almost exactly the same as what $1000 will get you in Alabama?

    Need more information to have an opinion. 8/

  4. #4 Susan Och
    December 26, 2006

    Our school superintendent told me that our school has lost federal aid because the feds changed the qualifications from “percentage of kids who qualify for free or reduced price school lunch” to “average property value.”

    In our resort/farming community there are many people who are only seasonably employed, despite all the fancy homes. 30% of our kids qualify for the school lunch program, but our property values make us look rich.

    The only reason to make this change would be to find an excuse to pay out less money.

  5. #5 Diane in Ohio
    December 26, 2006

    From what I understand grants are based on county population.My county has a smaller population than surrounding counties thus a smaller grant allowance.Welfare allowance is less here than surrounding counties so many move to where there is more money – making our population count even smaller. Our governor has also expressed doing away with SSI dissability which will affect 800,000 people.If that happens many will be leaving the state….how sad.

  6. #6 Mimi
    December 27, 2006

    I think the whole system of education needs a major overhaul. It is defunct to be blunt. I taught public school in Arlington, Va., Alexandria, Va. and Montgomery County, Md. and I’m sorry to say the whole notion of a “good school” is a myth. They all have similar problems. I’m homeschooling my own kids and we do not do school at home. It’s working for us and I feel sorry for kids who have to waste their time in a typical classroom.


  7. #7 Rebecca
    December 28, 2006

    I am a pre-kindergarten teacher for the school system. The whole premise behind the pre-K program is that these children are disadvantaged and, indeed, they have to pass a test to qualify for the program, and need extra help to be on an equal playing field with other children when they reach Kindergarten. These children are often at an economic disadvantage and have little or no resources at home or in their community.

    We receive funding for these children since it is a government program. However, there will never be enough funding to give these children and families the resources they truly need and deserve. Teachers still spend gobs of money from their own paychecks to give these children pretty standard materials in the classroom. There are few families in the school who can help donate items to the classroom, as there are at “wealthier” schools. There is always more that can be done. Always.

    I feel that the lack of funding in this urban school is just as important as the lack of funding in a rural area. There will never be enough money. All we can do is advocate for the funding, collect data as proof of need, appeal to their hearts, and hope for the best. The “No Child Left Behind” Act is ridiculous at best, and detrimental to children at worst. Children in urban and rural schools will be left behind until a better plan allocates more funding and resources for the teachers and the schools in these areas. In the meantime, we do the best we can and hope that our best is enough.

  8. #8 Jonathan Vos Post
    December 28, 2006

    “No Child Left Behind” translated into truth is “Almost All Children Left Behind.”

    The primary function of public primary schools is not education. It is, in my opinion as teacher, husband of teacher, and son of teacher, indoctrination of future consumer/workers, removal of people from the labor pool, and a failure so vast that, were it a business properly audited, would have gone bankrupt many years ago.

    If the consumer of “educational” services is the student, then why are the majority of consumers unable to think analytically, numerically, or creatively?

    If the consumer of “educational” services is the future employer, then why do corporations have to spend more on in-house remedial education than the school system spent in the first place?

    If the consumer of “educational” services of elementary, junior high, and high schools, is the system of colleges and universities, then why do the majority of community college students take 3 years to get a 2-year degree? Why do universities have a vast backlog of students taking remedial courses required for graduation, but whose credits do not themselves count towards graduation?

    If the consumer of “educational” services is the teacher, then why are more than half of the students in American colleges and universities at any given time being taught by (underpaid) teaching assistants, grad students, temps, adjuncts, or instructors, rather than full-time faculty? I speak of courses insultingly called “rocks for jocks” [Earth Sciences], “physics for poets”, “bonehead English”, “moons for goons” [Astronomy], and the like?

    When I was a little boy, in the nation’s largest public school system, New York City, there was still good education to be had. My parents would say: “eat all the food on your plate; there are children starving in China and India.” Now my son escaped the failed Pasadena Unifed School District, California, by passing college entrance exams at age twelve, and skipping directly from 8th grade to university. He is completing his double-B.S. in Math and Computer Science at age seventeen, a Dean’s List student. My wife and I saved him. But not every child can be so lucky. And parents today may have to advise their children: “Read all those textbooks on your desk; there are children starving for your outsourced job in China and India.”

    Memorization, Standardized Tests, and Official Policy
    By Jack Blatherwick, PhD
    truthout | Guest Contributor

    Thursday 28 December 2006

    “Teaching answers to standardized tests should not be called ‘education,’ especially when problem-solving will be the most important tool for a generation of students destined to inherit the incredible problems we will leave as our legacy….”

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