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You get what you pay for in education

Most Americans say and many believe that we provide free public education for all our nation’s children. That is not a 100 percent true statement, and I’d like to explain to you why.

Our main source of income for schools comes from the local property tax. State equalization support runs about 7 percent since I’ve been in education. That support is called equalization because it equalizes, partially.

We like to use that term, and theoretically it is the right term. We need to bring it into full practice.

In our capitalistic society, money is king and queen — both. We are all aware of that.

The ghetto on the bottom and the palatial mansions on the top with graduations to the median demonstrate the gaps in wealth. So it is easy to see why some schools get their students better results. It isn’t just the building’s condition or the equipment inside. The wealthy districts can pay more to their teachers, and they can stock the school with better equipment and a greater supply of books and materials.

Some readers will think that shouldn’t make all the difference in the quality of educational results. True again. More highly-educated parents have available materials and the know-how and potential time and ability to provide more educational opportunities for their children. So many of our technological materials, preschool training, trips, camps, supplies and more are available as you move up the economic scale.

That is why my moral issue of the day is our growing inequity. Is there any excuse for that in a nation that often refers to itself as exceptional? Shouldn’t our children have an equal start? There’s something wrong, isn’t there? Do we really believe ourselves? Should we? How?

Improving school financing is the answer. No evaluation or compensation system has ever been known to make a dent in achievement gaps, but improving finance systems and a more equitable distribution of funding has.

Lori Sherman, a kindergarten teacher at Riverside Elementary School in Reading, Pa., spelled it out.

"One of my close friends went to a wealthier district; she earned $16,000 more per year and had a kindergarten class of 18 with an aide, while I had a class of 30 on my own," She said. "It makes a big difference."

Her school was in a ghetto.

We know how important money is. Let’s have more of it in the poor school districts. We could afford it if there were not such an inexcusable gap in wealth in our country and such a mammoth military budget.

Bernie Hughes, Ed.D, is a retired educator who resides in Superior. He can be reached at