School districts’ heavy reliance on the local tax base causes huge inequities for students, because there are very wide disparities in local wealth per pupil across the state. An independent study in 2007 showed that property and income wealth per pupil ranged from $33,647 to $676,294. So if the wealthiest district taxed its citizens at the same rate as the poorest, it would raise 20 times as much to support the education of each student. And this disparity is reflected in actual spending by districts; current expenditures per pupil range from $8,659 to $22,962; the difference equates to more than $357,000 per year in a classroom of 25 students. Source: PDE Annual Finance Report Data, 2012-2013
You don’t need to be an education expert to know that you could buy each classroom in your local school a whole lot of quality education for $357,000 a year. Money pays for a quality curriculum and the books and materials that support it. It pays for high quality teachers and reasonable class sizes. It pays for guidance counselors who help students prepare for their futures by understanding their options and selecting the right courses. It pays for the unique needs of certain groups of students, including those with disabilities, those who are learning English, those who are gifted, and those impacted by poverty. It pays for professional development to improve the skills of current teachers and administrators. It pays for modern educational technology that helps students learn and helps prepare them for college and the 21st century workplace.