Who Pays for Our Kids' Education?

We are a well-educated society, so how did we get ourselves into this cycle of putting this financial burden and stress on the teachers who we entrust with our kids every day?
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CBS News reported there are 200 one-room public schools located in rural areas left in America. At one time, just about every child was taught in a one-room school. Our second president, John Adams, taught in a one-room school near Boston. Abe Lincoln was educated at a one-room school. Henry Ford loved his one-room school house so much that he had it moved to a museum in Michigan. As late as 1913, half of the country's schoolchildren were enrolled in the country's 200,000 one room schools. But after World War I, people moved into cities and one-room schools began to disappear. In 1929 there were 248,000 public schools, versus 99,000 today, caused by the migration to larger cities and towns.

There are 54,876,000 kids enrolled in schools, of which 49,484,000 are in public schools, according to the Center for Education Reform. The student to teacher ratio is 16 to 1 in public schools and 11 to 1 in private schools. Total public school expenditures were $607 billion with 12.7 percent coming from the federal government, 43.5 percent from the state and 43.8 percent local expense. The average public school expenditure per pupil was $13,000 and the average teacher makes $49,630 a year.

If you step back and study all of these numbers, they are just so huge. The number of kids we affect in our school systems, the billions of dollars we spend to keep up the learning and the amount of buildings we construct, makes our educational system alone rank as the twenty first largest economy in the world. There are 3.3 million full time teachers driving this economy.

With all of this money flowing in and out of our educational system, and in spite of us being the richest country in the world, the New York Daily News reports that even though New York City has a $24 billion education budget, teachers on average spend $500 of their own cash on pens, paper and other instructional materials. Taking the 3.3 million teachers nationwide spending $500 to help their kids and we have over $1.6 billion coming out of teachers' pockets to keep our schools going.

Knowing that most teachers are going to be spending their own money to help make their job more meaningful, why do teachers teach? Teachers that I know tell me they want to do their part in changing the world one student at a time by working on their hearts and minds and guiding them to become literate, empowered, engaged and creative. These teachers are passionate about their jobs, which most feel is their calling in life. So, pulling $500 out of their own pocket to help others is just what they do in their selflessness to make a difference.

But asking our teachers to do this is not right. Whether we have kids in school or not, all of us must be concerned with the quality of education we are providing for the next generation, and as concerned citizens, we must make a difference and help our teachers help our kids. The National Teachers Assistance Organization is taking donations to help teachers. At Donors Choose, an online nonprofit charity group that matches donors and teachers for supplies and projects, they report their site had a 30 percent increase in requests for help from teachers this year. At Start Donating, it is an easy way to help teachers get what they need. And at DollarDays on our Facebook page, we are giving $500 worth of products away, each to 10 different teachers; so please nominate your favorite teacher who deserves our help.

We are a well-educated society, so how did we get ourselves into this cycle of putting this financial burden and stress on the teachers who we entrust with our kids every day? Teachers' classrooms should be a sanctuary of learning, maturing and growing our children into the next greatest generation. Instead we have our teachers worrying about the funding for the basic functions needed to educate our leaders of tomorrow. From John Adams and his one-room schoolhouse to our modern day consolidated schools, we are still making it difficult for these dedicated teachers to perform at their best. It is the teachers of today, like the teachers of our forefathers, with their dedication and determination, who set the example for their students by their actions of caring and giving. The rest of us need to support these public servants and ease their personal burden of doing the right thing for our kids.

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