Sunday, June 12, 2011

Americans for Tax Reform "Bemoans the existence of public schools"

Most people would agree that universal public education is the cornerstone of American success as an economic power and as a beacon of democracy in the world.

Apparently, Americans for Tax Reform (ATR) doesn't think much of public education.  In a recent post defending for-profit colleges, ATR took time at the end of the article to list some of the things they bemoan the existence of - specifically public schools. 

You can read the post here, but the offending passage states: "It is unfortunate that these federal spending programs exist. ATR also bemoans the existence of public schools, teachers unions, and Obamacare—but that doesn’t mean we won’t work to mitigate the negative effects of these bad policies or institutions."

As Americans strive to improve our public schools so as to ensure our students are adequately prepared to compete in a global economy, it is important to understand that there are forces like Americans for Tax Reform that would like undermine these efforts by doing away with public schools all together.

Texas School Districts Consider Tax Increases to Fill State Cuts To Education

The New York Times has an interesting article titled School Districts Look at Increase in Tax Rates out today (6/12/11), which discusses tax options faced by Texas school districts in the wake of state funding cuts to education.

In the recent legislative session, Texas cut $4 billion from the education budget.  According to the article,
The local part of public education financing in Texas comes from property taxes: maintenance-and-operations rates set by school boards and, if applicable, a facilities bond interest rate.  In 2006, as part of an overhaul of the state’s school finance system, the Legislature voted to reduce property tax rates by a third, setting the majority of districts’ maintenance-and-operations rates at $1 per $100 of property value, with a cap of $1.17. Any district that wants to levy a tax rate higher than $1.04 must hold a “tax ratification election.” About 20 percent of districts have already reached the $1.17 limit...
While Arizona is "an equalized funding state", school districts still vote individually for maintenance and operation overrides, capital overrides and bonds.  It is interesting to see how other states handle these issues when Arizonans are discussing the funding of our public education system.  Issues such as local commitment to education funding and equal funding statewide are topics of discussion in the wake of substantial cuts to education in the two most recent sessions of the Arizona Legislature.

To read the rest of the New York Times article, click here.