In Education, Money Matters

In all matters of life, in any community, money matters. So it is in public education. Any arguments that minimize the importance of money to teaching and learning are delusional. Every aspect of education costs money. The largest expense in education, as it is in every profession, is personnel. No matter that some professional educators are more talented then others, all teachers and administrators cost money. Access to money partially explains the difference between affluent and poor school districts. Real estate agents direct homebuyers to “good school districts” with high property values for a reason. And, business organizations locate in communities where the children of the most talented and highly paid employees can send their children to quality schools. How dare anyone claim that money does not matter when it comes to educating poor children. Indeed, money matters more for the economically disadvantaged. Economic diversity is as important as racial integration. When a fledgling African American middle class abandons a poor, black school district the results are as devastating as “white flight.” However, access to money, though essential, does not mean a school district has the capacity to deliver a quality education. Inept capacity does not mean money does not matter. Tunica, Mississippi is a recent example of elected officials not grasping that having access to money to educate children and knowing what to do with it can be incoherent. After years of professional malpractice, despite access to bundles of local money from the thriving casino, the Board School and Superintendent of Tunica were stripped of their role in leading and managing the education for poor, black students. Elected officials bellowed that money does not matter. A heresy never invoked in high performing districts in Mississippi or anywhere else.

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