The school funding system is unfair

Like any other sane human in the world, I consider anything involving school funding to be mind-numbingly dull. However, sometimes it is necessary to be informed about what is actually going on– especially when it affects students and teachers.

In California, public schools are funded based off of their Average Daily Attendance (ADA), which is the total number of days of student attendance divided by the total days of instruction. In other words, it means that when students are not in school, the school loses funding. Yes, even on days the school closes for an emergency. Any day without school is a day that is not funded.

This policy was implemented in 1970 after the courts ruled that funding based off of property taxes is unfair because it disenfranchised poorer communities.

Like any other business, schools want to maximize funding. Usually, this is not a problem for us students. We do not have problems that usually shut down schools like heavy snows, storms or tornadoes like in other parts of the U.S. However, with the massive fires and mudslides that were spreading through Southern California, the faults with ADA became apparent. Schools are generally more reluctant to shut down because less school means less funding regardless of the circumstance.

This funding system also invalidates all the hard work that teachers have to put in to bring absent students up to speed when they return. Earlier this month, I had the flu and was absent. Our state considers this a failure on the part of our school, and punishes it in the form of withholding compensation. Although ADA intends to incentivize schools to keep attendance high, the only thing it actually does is misconstrue reality. The system does not take into account that now teachers have to work extra to check my homework, explain the lesson I missed and bring me up to speed about the group project coming up.  

Although ADA is an improvement compared to the prior system, it is still inadequate and unfair. Schools do not have any control over whether a student gets sick or how good the air quality is. The influence schools can exert over truant students is minimal as well. The state should not punish schools for things that are mostly out of their control.  


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