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Data Shows that Funding Drives Achievement

I’ll never forget my first job teaching in the South Side of Chicago. It was gratifying to be making a difference in a community that needed difference makers. There were some limitations, but in teaching you can’t ask for better professional development than to make due with what you’ve got. We used old textbooks, and there was an extremely finite supply of paper on hand, so we used great collaboration to drive our success.

I also learned something just as valuable – how school funding works. What struck me each day when I boarded the train to get home was how the buildings gradually got nicer, the architecture more stunning, the schools better funded, the further north I got.

So, I think this headline says it all: “Sixth graders in the richest school districts are four grade levels ahead of children in the poorest districts.

Or, this stat: that the best school districts in the country spend more per student than the already high average, which NPR recently cited as around $11,000 per pupil. When you look at the map, districts that are spending the most are generally the highest achieving. When you dive deeper into the rankings, there is a pretty strong correlation to how much funding is received to overall achievement. Many districts listed here are either tops in funding nationally, or leaders in their state.

The latest census shows how the majority of government funding goes into school infrastructure and salaries, among other vital operations, but you can never overlook how important the small things are, too. It’s simply true that you won’t find a happier teacher than one who just got a new electric pencil sharpener or some good computer speakers to make their job easier. (Or a box of donuts in the teacher workroom!)

And so I’ll add some personal reflection on how all funding helps. I remember back to my second teaching job, just as fondly as my first. I had a great new class. I was rearing to go, especially to teach the kids writing, a passion of mine. I bought all kinds of supplies for the kids, a color printer and ink, and some books the school didn’t have that were absolute musts for anyone learning how to be a better writer. The tally came at the supply store, about a third of my paycheck. I winced for a second, turned around, looked back, and there were a line of teachers behind me doing the same thing. Turns out, I was just one of the thousands of teachers who spend upwards of $500 a year of their own money on supplies each year. So yes, funding matters,  and a TSCA sponsorship can make a huge difference. Contact TSCA today to learn how the value of a sponsorship can help teachers teach and districts be the best they can be.

About The Author

Chris Coomey is a teacher, writer, and community engagement specialist. When not working with students or writing about education, you can find him on his bike, on the basketball court, or out on a long hike on the incredible Colorado trails.