A New Tax Model For School Funding
Discussion of education funding should acknowledge and appreciate that many taxpayers do not have children in the public schools, but they are still required to fund schools through taxation. One of the primary rationales for this is that K-12 education benefits the general population; thus widespread taxation is justified.
Even if one accepts a social benefit justification for taxes, it is certain that some advantages of education accrue to individuals. After all, society does not sit in a classroom, individuals do. Individuals acquire skills and knowledge and use them to earn an income.
There is much evidence that individuals benefit from education. According to the American Council on Education, a person who completes high school will make about $400,000 more during his or her lifetime than someone without a diploma.
Higher compensation provides an economic justification for families to pay a portion of education costs. Why should all taxpayers pay the full costs of education when individuals receive substantial benefits?
Education funding fails to connect who pays for education with who benefits from it. Those who attend public schools receive significant economic benefits from their education and should directly pay a portion of the cost of school. Parental financial responsibility for education will help create incentives for improved school performance and efficiency.
Policymakers give lip service to the benefit principle, but they have either ignored or misapplied it in considering how to raise revenue for schools. Parents and their children receive a substantial benefit from K-12 education and it is reasonable for them to pay for this service. After all, if parents do not value education enough to spend their own money on it, why should other taxpayers be forced to fund it for them?
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