Equal Funding for Public Education

The excellent front-page article "In Many States, Lawsuits Contest the Fairness of School Funding," March 23, points out an interesting national dilemma, but Alan Hickrod's solution to shift costs from property taxes to general taxes is flawed. It is true that the tax on property has been the traditional source of school funding, and that equalization lawsuits have shifted funding to state sales and income taxes.

However, those remedies resolve the equalization problem by shifting the costs away from local property taxes to equalized state revenues. This sounds good, but it makes funding education more sensitive to fluctuating economic conditions; when the economy declines, education suffers - look at California. Local property taxes provide a cushion against the rise and fall of the economy and maintain a stable charge for the operation of schools.

Education is a state responsibility under the Constitution, and one may say that the differences are a function of each state's economy. Economic indicators, however, do not fully support that view. Currently, a child in one of the top expenditure states gets an education nearly twice as expensive as a child living in a low-expenditure state. The main differences in these states is class size, which is the way teachers' salaries are kept competitive.

The simplistic conclusion that Dr. Hickrod proposes is as flawed as the problem he is trying to solve. If equity in education is correct within a state, why then not have national equity? John De Beck, San Diego Board Member, San Diego City Schools

Our system of financing public schools is failing and unbalanced. I attended a small rural high school for two years. This school lacked funding, therefore providing a lower quality of education. After transferring to a larger school, I realized the many disparities in our school systems. Larger schools with better funding inherently have a higher quality of education to offer.

Children in smaller and lower-income communities are not receiving an education equal to that of larger, wealthier communities. No child should have to settle for a second-rate education. Jay Jones, Florence Ala. The ivy tower

The editorial "Put Scholars Before Dollars," April 12, makes a rhetorical pirouette. As a parent and a professor, I am appalled with Yale's $100,000 plus cost for a diploma. But why do you digress from musing about Yale to your statement that "many institutions seem to be run for the benefit of the (often absent) faculty rather than the students?"

You are confusing Ivy league research universities with the rest of us.

As a teacher at a midsize state institution of 18,000 students, we are proud of our faculty-student ratio of 1 to 30 in the history department. Across the nation, faculty members work an average of 57 hours per week by teaching, preparing lectures, grading papers, and counseling and advising students.

If faculty at flagship research institutions are not there to meet classes, and those professors are only climbing higher into the ivory tower with little regard for their students, then I suggest that college students attend regional universities that have a commitment both to teaching and career preparation. Andrew Gulliford,,Murfreesboro, Tenn. Associate Professor and Director Public History & Historic Preservation Program Middle Tennessee State University Help the children

Regarding the article "Congress, Administration Move to Keep Abortion Clinics Open," March 25: The killing of Dr. David Gunn, a man dedicated to legally serving women who choose not to have unwanted babies, is tragic.

I have read nothing about the right-to-life advocates being concerned about these women, nor about the many unwanted babies. How sad that all the energy that goes into shouting at clinic patients, mobilizing blockades, throwing bombs, and setting fires, cannot be channeled into concern about babies already born who desperately need help.

I would like to see right-to-life advocates organizing daycare or after-school childcare centers, mentoring, or tutoring young people, joining Big Brothers/Sisters organizations, working with abandoned AIDS babies in hospitals, and working with physically disabled youngsters.

I advocate sponsoring more health clinics to include birth-control education and service. This would go a long way toward helping stem the need for abortions in the first place. Sarah G. Epstein, Washington

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