An undetected thief lurks in America’s classrooms: funding for public education. Dynamic instruction, robust learning, and student futures are stolen when funding for public education is inadequate and inequitable. The devastating impact of this thievery is examined throughout this book. Student engagement with the potential and promise of traditional public education is stolen by funding formulas crafted by state legislatures. Theft in the classroom results when these funding schemes misdirect and disconnect the resources required to educate all US students. Called upon to deal with an ever-changing cascade of mandates, standards, legislation, and counterproductive testing marathons, but provided with funding so inadequate that instruction is often little better than anemic “test prep,” public educators in pursuit of the common good are robbed by insufficient funding. Although funding for public education is a topic unlikely to command frequent public discussion, no topic is more consequential for achievement, adequacy, and social justice in the learning, lives, and futures of America’s children and young people.
Jeff Swensson served in traditional public education across the Midwest as a teacher, assistant principal, principal, assistant superintendent, and superintendent for 45 years. He graduated from Amherst College, received his MAT from Northwestern University, and earned his Ph.D. from Indiana University.
Lynn Lehman served in public schools and universities in Indiana as a teacher, assistant, principal, principal, assistant superintendent, superintendent, university lecturer, and assistant professor for 50 years. He earned BS, MAT, Ed.S, and Ed.D. degrees from Indiana University.
John Ellis served public education across Indiana as a teacher, assistant principal, principal, assistant superintendent, superintendent, and Director of the Indiana Association of Public School Superintendents for more than 43 years. He graduated from Ball State University with a BA in education and a Master’s in Education before earning his Ph.D. from Indiana State University.
ONE—Dollars and Sense: The Basics of Public School Funding for Educational Programs
TWO—Grab Bag Funding: Promises, Problems, and Prizes
THREE—A Case Study: Weeds in Indiana’s School Funding Field
FOUR—What Does School Funding Pay For?
FIVE—Are We Really Paying for What We Get?
SIX—Public Education Is a Test
SEVEN—The Magic and the Consequences of School Funding
EIGHT—The Thief in the Classroom
NINE—Funding for Public Education: Is There a Bottom Line?
TEN—To Catch a Thief
Finally, a review of the inconsistencies and unequal treatment of school systems when it comes to school funding. If US public education is truly a priority, why does the success of America’s students rely more on their zip code than any other factor? The authors are experienced and knowledgeable educators who can speak first-hand to the inequalities and inconsistencies that prevent school improvement initiatives and student success.
A must-read for educational leadership at all levels. Swensson, Lehman, and Ellis detail both the form and the function of flawed funding formulas, identifying institutionalized inequity as the inevitable outcome. This is an overdue offering!
The Thief in the Classroom is a primer for those charged with creating and administering public policy regarding the finance of public education and should be required reading for legislators, board members, administrators, and teacher leaders. The straightforward narrative serves to transform a “mysterious concept” into an understandable topic.