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34 Child. Legal Rts. J. 122 (2013-2014)
Opposing Views: The Divide in Public Education Funding - Property Tax Revenue

handle is hein.journals/clrj34 and id is 127 raw text is: 






  Opposing Views: The Divide in Public Education Funding - Property
                                   Tax Revenue

                                 By Magda Derisma

       In the United States Supreme Court's decision in San Antonio Independent School
District v. Rodriguez, the Court made it clear that education is not an implicit or explicit
right protected by the United States Constitution.
       Although education is not constitutionally protected, it does not exist without
safeguards. The Tenth Amendment to the Constitution implicitly reserves the power of
educational decision making to each respective state. As a result, each state has a
provision within their state's constitution that requires an equitable or ample public
education system. Legislators of each state are given authority to decide how their
education system will be maintained. A majority of state legislators have decided that
public education is primarily a local expenditure that should be funded by local property
tax revenue.
       Nevertheless, the decision to largely fund public education through property tax
revenue is one that is often challenged. Courts, education reformists, and legislatures are
divided on the issue. Proponents of public education property tax funding view property
taxes as an effective funding source for state and local governments. Opponents argue
that this type of funding creates disparities in the quality of education that is available to
children living in poor communities.
               Proponents of Public Education Property Tax Funding
       Proponents argue that property taxes are the most appropriate revenue source for
the large expenditure of public education. In support of this, proponents turn to an
analysis of federal, state, and local funding sources to ground their argument. To begin,
public education is a huge local expenditure. Less than ten percent of education funding
comes from the federal government. The large remaining balance is left for the states to
fund. This balance is paid through potentially unstable state and local taxes.
       Similarly, proponents argue that yearly school budgets and funding sources need
to be stable and predictable so that teacher placements and educational services are not
interrupted. Using state taxes to fund public education has the potential to create funding
insecurities. To begin, state tax revenues are largely generated from income and sales
taxes. Income and sales tax revenue are not stable sources and have the propensity to
drop in times of recession. Local property taxes on the other hand are more stable despite
changes that occur in economic conditions. The property tax base is seen as being less
mobile than the income and sales tax base.
       In addition, proponents note that there are a few states that do not collect sales or
income taxes. Especially in those states it would be a difficult task to fund a public
education system without the use of property tax revenue.
       The argument is also made that the loss of local property taxes reduces civic
engagement. Homeowners with school age children in public schools usually have a
greater incentive to vote on issues that relate to public education when their property
taxes are used to fund public education. Moreover, property-rich districts, districts that

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