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The provision of quality education is crucial in any nation’s economic development agenda. However, the realization of a perfect qualitative education system is continually challenged by a series of factors. The core issue of funding is the most significant among these factors. The establishment of schools, public or charter is dependent on the availability of funds. Despite each school’s need for financing, a significant underlying contemporary issue requires addressing.
The need for quality education systems which are in alignment to the nation’s development agenda is critical. The realization of this can only be done by availability of adequate funds and competent educational systems. The disparity between public and charter school funding has culminated to controversial and heated debates. This paper intends to explore the significance of funding in realizing qualitative educational systems. The various methods and sources of funding will be critically analyzed. Educational potential and achievement based on the availability or lack thereof of funding is an aspect that will also be addressed.
Funding is an issue that has characterized significant debates relating to public and charter schools. Public school funding differs dramatically across the various states and districts. However, public school funding attempts to mitigate the disparity that occurs as the result of income and property wealth aspects. The disparity is realized when some districts suffer or benefit more than others in the same school category (Chambers, Levin & Parrish, 2006). Public school funding is characterized by federal allocations and the district’s ability to generate and produce realizable property taxes.
Public education funding is inversely proportionate to a state or districts wealth quantified in terms of adjusted gross income and real property wealth (Fordham, 2005). Wealthy districts are allocated lower funding while recognized low income districts are allocated significantly higher funding. Public school funding aims at shifting the education cost from individual tax payers to the state; however, the funding does not offer additional wealth for school programs. Public schools are given budgets relative to their state or district allocations. Their funds are predetermined by the district on the basis of their estimated operating and fixed costs.
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The reliance on state funding for public schools is not absolute; therefore, public schools can derive funds from other sources like private donations, community contributions towards school development programs and initiatives (General Accounting Office, 2000). The use of such funds aid in mitigating the short fall realized in state funded budgets.
However, charter school funding is significantly different from that of public school funding. A given portion of charter school funding is provided by the district. However, these funds are hardly adequate to facilitate effective and efficient running of these schools. The funding to these schools is not pre determined like in the public school’s case. A number of factors contribute to calculating the finances to be allocated by the state. These factors include the level of enrollment, the development phase of the school and charter school authorization financing.
Therefore, to facilitate further operations charter schools rely on state and private financing. The funding of these schools has donation characteristics where the school is not obligated to repay any money received (Fordham, 2005). These funds are in the form of donations and gifts realized through capital raising campaigns, collection of monetary grants or a continuous stream of receivables. The state or district allocations are based on per pupil allocations (Fordham, 2005). These allocations are significantly low in contrast to public school share; considering they do not take into account capital costs. The rationale behind the low allocations is the fact that they operate on a charter; which is not subject to state dictated operating procedures, rules and regulations like public schools.
Funding is critical in the realization of a school’s objective. The creation of quality educational systems relies critically on the funds available.In light of these, it is essential to note that given the limitations of the funds provided to public school budgets, the education system is compromised. Public schools are characterized by a large number of students who are disproportionate to the available teachers. This proves to be difficult for paying attention to each student accordingly. The inadequate funding creates a difficulty for school administrators to manage available resource or acquire new, efficient school resources.
This leads to poor educational systems and an increase in school fees. School facilities, academic programs and student services are affected negatively by inadequate funding. This factor leads to an increase in school fees as administrators attempt to mitigate the effects of shortage in funding. Despite these increments in costs, the educational value keeps declining and education systems become redundant (Chambers, Levin & Parrish, 2006). These are characterized by overcrowded class rooms, poor infrastructure and increasing dropout rates.
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Charter schools are faced with a similar dilemma. The survival of a charter school is significant to the success rate of its students. Charter schools are established to cater to the needs of a group of students under the charter (Center for Education Reform, 2008). The state may rarely offer initial startup capital for charter schools. In most instances, charter schools are established in district spaces, which are not utilized; abandoned warehouses, churches or in rented spaces as happens in the most cases. The mission of a charter school is to provide a unique education given the social and environmental dispensation of its locality. Special education programs and personalized attention to students are the major characteristic of charter schools.
The concept of provision of quality education is significantly more identifiable with charter schools than public schools. The education programs in charter schools are tailor made to maximize a student’s potential and productivity. Therefore, the survival of a charter school is dependent in most instances on the school's performance trend. Non performing charter schools are underfunded and closed in many cases. Though they are performance oriented, funding of charter schools varies from state to state (Fordham, 2005). In some states or districts charter schools are heavily funded in contrast to public schools, which are low funded. In these cases, the public illustrates significant faith in the performance of charter schools than public schools.
The advances realized in technology have made the contemporary world essentially a global village. The establishment of educational systems that are technology-oriented is critical to both charter and public schools. The availability of funding is crucial in these aspects. School facilities are, therefore, significant in addressing advances in technology, operating procedures and educational delivery systems. The level of funding that a school gets will determine the adequacy of the available facilities in ascertaining quality education which is provided to the students.
Education systems are essential in these aspects. However, their relevance and competence in addressing the changes in the world are important aspects. State or district fund programs and grants that aim at aiding public schools realize the changes in technological aspects are crucial. These are essential in creating up to date facilities for educational programs, research and innovations (DeArmond, Taggart & Hill, 2000). In this respect, the establishment of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA) is significant for monitoring the performance of schools. This act dictates the guidelines critical to school systems and morale.
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The No child left behind act establishes the basis on which charter schools are gauged. The law on charters requires schools to be accountable; therefore, produce an Adequate Yearly Report. This implies that charter schools must report significant progress annually to ascertain their development and continued operation. The principles underlying the provision of quality education are clearly defined in charter schools. These are the charter school benchmarks.
The demand for facilities is continually increasing as the population density grows. The result of the increase in the number of students enrolling in public schools is raised pressure on available facilities and resources (Saari, 2006). However, this increase in school enrollments is not complimented by increased funding. There is constant competition for available facilities; in most instances several school program resolve to share the available resources on a time allocation basis. The increase in public school enrollment is consistently challenged by the shortfall in the number of available teachers (Saari, 2006). It is significantly difficult to attend to an overcrowded classroom; therefore, it is difficult to monitor and control the performance trends of each student.
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Charter schools are faced with a significantly bigger problem in comparison to public schools. Public schools have the advantage of full capital funding from the state or the districts (Gurley, 2002). Therefore, their facilities are guaranteed despite being inadequate. Charter schools facilities are not guaranteed and are dependent on the schools ability to sustain itself through the various developmental phases and the availability of funding sources. The initial establishment of charter school is based on temporary facilities as the schools struggle to acquire their own property.
The significance of funding in the realization of quality education is illustrated by the enrollment processes. The availability of facilities determines the level of school enrollments indicating how much faith the public has in the school. The disparity in funding between the public and charter schools is reflective on each school’s available resources; hence the rate of enrollment. Public schools are developed bearing in mind the K-12 programs (Thattai, 2001). Therefore, their funding is allocated on this basis. However, charter schools may not have sufficient funds to establish a comprehensive K-12 program. They may opt to start their establishment with a few grade levels which they can sufficiently cater for financially and on the basis of available facilities.
The distinguishing aspect of public schools is that their curriculums are determined by the state and cannot be influenced by the parents or school boards. The schools ability to operate adequately within the bounds of the stipulated curriculum is critical to the available funds. As much as the state provides funds to public schools to cover their operational costs in achieving the objectives set in the curriculum, other school functions and extra curriculum activities require additional funds. These funds are critical for providing quality education to the students.
Education cannot be measured and quantified in terms of academic performance alone. A comprehensive education aims at growing the student’s intellect, creativity, innovation and physical aspects. The provision of an all-round education is critical to the development of competent students; hence future work force (Saari, 2006). Charter schools are appraised on their ability to present options to the public. They are premised on their tailor made and innovative methods in the delivery of a school curriculum, while organizing the school functions optimally.
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Initial funding of a charter school is invested in meeting the authorizer’s requirements and parameters. The school at this time struggles to implement systems that will enable the efficient running of operations. Despite the minimal funds available to the school at the initial stages; the administrators must ensure that they make decisions about curriculum and hiring of staff (General Accounting Office, 2000). This is done with future adjustments and objectives in mind. The school’s public image is critical at this time and endearment to the public is essential. However, public schools are not subjected to the same protocols, since their startup phase is overseen by the state.
A charter schools ability to meet the needs of its students significantly influences its ability to secure financing. The school’s demonstration of progress brings the community back to its operations. These are characterized by parent’s involvement in the education of their children; while championing the implementation of structure and educational systems. The success of a charter school is an indication of efficient and effective management of the daily operations. A sound community support and a positive relationship with the school’s authorizer also contributes to the success of charter school.
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The processes that are affected by the establishment of a sound educational system in any school are determined by the school’s funding. The necessity for essential up to date systems and structures in the provision of quality education is absolute. The integrity of the education systems must be reinforced to ensure that relevant and quality education is provided to everyone. The Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA) was established objectively to ensure that all children illustrate proficiency in educational basics. However, this act should not be misrepresented in the provision of qualitative education. Public and charter schools should not be made to compromise the educational standards and quality on the basis of availability or lack of funds.