Education holds the key to personal and social transformation. We are all created equal, but education is not distributed equally in the USA today. It is skewed by residential segregation by race and class. All our citizens have a right to gain the tools and resources of a first-rate education to live out their full potential and take a full part in our society.
Public education in America dates to the Massachusetts Bay Colony prior to the founding of the United States. In the 19th century, Horace Mann envisioned education as a tool to lift persons out of poverty and overcome social inequity. The U.S. Department of Education dates back to 1867 as a resource to assist states in building effective school systems. Yet states still largely control their own schools, making for a morass of models and widening educational inequality. More wealth and social advantage enable affluent families to shop more freely for better schools, including private schools, independent schools, magnet schools, charter schools, and homeschooling.
In 2017, the White-Black gap in 4th - grade reading achievement scores was 26 points and 25 points in 8th grade achievement scores. The White- Hispanic gap in 2017 was 23 points for 4th graders and 19 points for 8th graders.
In 2017, the White-Black achievement gap in 4th grade mathematics achievement scores was 25 points in while the White-Hispanic gap was 19 points. For 8th graders, the White-Black achievement gap in 2017 and the White-Hispanic achievement gap was 32 points and 24 points, respectively.
Georgia lawmakers cut $950 million from the state’s budget in June 2020 in basic K-12 school funding for the Department of Education. State support for private school vouchers through tax credits and direct state funding faced no budget cuts.
Online instruction, due to the pandemic, further disadvantages rural students and poorer students.
The Quality Basic Education Act (QBE) was passed in 1985 and went into effect in 1986 to ensure fair financing for schools in Georgia. But it was denied full funding until 2018, leaving the neediest school districts lagging behind for a full generation, and underscoring the need
to sustain stronger support for the next generation.
POLICY PROPOSITION AND IMPLEMENTATION
We need to increase education funding—above and beyond salaries—for programming, technological infrastructure, and pandemic mitigation efforts. We need federal and state governments to pass laws funding education (including post-secondary, vocational, and technical schooling) with a weighted model to work fairly for those in poor and rural areas; provide technology to bridge the digital divide and overcome cyber-segregation deepened by the current pandemic.