4 Things That Educators Should Know About School Finance and Organization

As a new educator, you may not be aware of the tremendous impact these two factors can have on your practice as a classroom teacher. However, funding underpins the entire educational system and determines aspects as diverse as the salary you are paid, the benefits you receive, the number of students in your classes, the textbooks you use, and the supplies you are able to purchase for your pupils. Funding for education is derived from federal, state, and local sources. The origin of these resources can have an impact on where and how they are allocated and dispersed.

Educational governance also has a direct impact on your teaching practice. Governance largely establishes the curriculum you will teach in the classroom, how and by whom you are hired, who is responsible for evaluating your teaching performance, and through which channels you will make your voice as a professional educator heard. In this article we will discuss 4 things that educators should know about school finance and organization.

How are schools financed? Funding for schools comes from a variety of sources. Federal, state and local levels all provide school systems with much-needed funds. There are often conditions attached to these monies, depending on their origin. Although local school districts are, broadly speaking, more in touch with the requirements and circumstances of their communities, they are sometimes placed at a disadvantage in terms of ensuring adequate provision of funds for the school. Conversely, although states and federal institutions are removed from the day-to-day workings of individual schools to a greater or lesser extent, these levels have access to a greater availability of funds. When all the various layers of funding administration work together, it is possible to achieve several funding objectives for each individual school.

How are schools organized at the state level? At the state level, the organizational governance structure can vary from jurisdiction to jurisdiction, and the governor is typically the head of education for the state although the members of the legislature are equally as powerful when it comes to setting statewide policies and regulations. Many states have a State Board of Education (SBE), which is either appointed, elected, or a combination of both, with some members being appointed and others elected. The SBE is charged with implementing educational policy and providing both governance and supervision to all schools located within the state. Most states have a Chief State School Officer, who is directly responsible to the SBE, and normally serves as the head of a state department of education. Lastly, the State Department of Education ensures that all legislation and regulation created by the state are observed throughout the state.

How are schools organized at the local level? The local school board is charged with interpreting state regulations and setting similar policies for their district while creating strategic plans for the advancement of education in their area. In essence they are in control of the overall management of their school district. The school superintendent is charged by the school with the duty of running the day to day operations of the school. The principal manages the day to day operations of an individual school and reports directly to the superintendent or one of their deputy superintendents.

What groups influence public education in America? Many teachers belong to the National Education Association or the American Federation of Teachers, which are highly influential due to their coherent voice at a national level. These organizations have been vocal in support of site-based management, meaning that decisions should be made at a local level.

Parents have an enormous influence on public education, though their involvement varies considerably. Parent Teacher Associations and Parent Teacher Organizations serve as valuable liaisons between teachers and parents.

A fairly recent phenomenon is the impact of large businesses on education. Corporations such as Coca Cola, IBM, and Apple are all deeply involved in education and donate millions of dollars to the public school system. However, some groups have raised concerns that the businesses are focused primarily on molding students to become better workers for their particular industry. Another concern is that businesses contract with schools to exclusively provide their product (such as soft drinks) in return for funding. This creates brand loyalty among this impressionable group of young people.

The federal government, though it has no direct control over education, does pass laws that have an impact on local education. These include laws in the areas of desegregation, school finance, prayer in the schools, and the rights of individual students.

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