Do you have to come from the right side
of the tracks to get a good public school education? Some kids in this
country get only a third as much money spent on them as their richer
neighbors. Ironically, tax rates may actually be lower in wealthier
districts because property values are higher. Some people feel that's
unfair that less money means poorer schools a worse education. They want the
state to take financial control to collect money for schools and distribute
it equally so that poor districts can spend as much on their kids as rich
Good evening and welcome to The Advocates. I'm
Michael Dukakis. Tonight we are again coming to you from the campus of Ohio
State University here in Columbus, Ohio; and we are again the guests of the
Pro and Con Series of Forum Debates, sponsored and presented by the
Department of Communication here at Ohio State.
Our question tonight involves money in schools, a very, very
hot issue in states all across this country, and particularly here in
Columbus and in the state of Ohio where the struggle between the taxpayers
who have rejected property tax increases for more school spending and their
local school board that it says that it simply can't manage with the
existing level of funds has been the stuff of which major headlines have
been made for months and months. Ever since 1971 when the California Supreme
Court ruled that wealthier school districts had an unfair educational
advantage over poor ones, there's been an increasing movement across this
country to have the states collect the money for public schools and then to
distribute it to local school districts in a way which will eliminate or
modify differences in local wealth. There are obviously a wide variety of
proposed state plans, but a typical state plan would supply some 90 percent
or more of a local school district's funds and then only a minimal local
additional contribution would be permitted.
Tonight, for the second time here on The Advocates, we have
something that we think will be very interesting and very important to our
debate this evening; and that's the participation of our cable television
audience here in the Columbus area. Through something called the QUBE
system, these cable television viewers and subscribers have a series of
buttons on their television sets which they can push and with which they can
respond to questions that I will be putting to them during the course of
tonight's debate. And before we begin that debate, I'm going to ask our QUBE
system viewers two questions. The first one is the one we're debating this
evening. Before they have the benefit of that debate, should your state
assume financial control of its schools? If your answer is "Yes," would you
please push button number 1. If your answer is "No," would you please push
button number 2; and if you're undecided, would you please push button
number 3; and would you respond now.
Now, obviously for the benefit of our national viewing
audience, this is not necessarily a representative or a scientifically
selected sample here in Columbus, certainly not of national opinion; but we
think it will be interesting. Let's turn and see what the results are.
Thirty-eight percent believe that the state, in this case—Ohio, should
assume financial control of its public schools, 46 percent say "No," and 15
percent say that they are undecided. Let me put a second question to our
QUBE system viewers, which will tell us something about your feelings about
your own school system. How do you feel about the amount of money that is
currently being spent on the public schools in your district? If you think
it's too much, would you please push button number 1. If you think it's
about the right amount/ would you please push button number 2, and if you
think too little is being spent on your schools, would you please push
button number 3; and would you please respond now.
Now, obviously responses to this question will tend to
depend on whether our viewers come from a wealthy suburb, from the inner
city, or from a rural area. But again, let's see what our figures tell us.
Thirty-one percent think too much is being spent, 37 percent think it's
about right, and 31 percent think it's too little, a rather interesting,
rather interesting spread.
All right. Let's turn now to our debate and to our
advocates. Again, the question we're debating: "Should your state assume
financial control for its public schools?" Advocate Wendall Anderson, a
former governor, United States Senator from Minnesota and a leading
proponent of this proposal in his home state, says "Yes."
Thank you, Governor Dukakis and ladies and
gentleman. The promise of democracy can only be fulfilled if each child in
America has an opportunity to develop to his or her fullest potential. And
that's only possible if our states assume greater responsibility for funding
public schools. With me tonight to argue for full state funding are John
Lloyd, Jr., an attorney who has represented the plaintiffs and has
challenged local financing of public schools here in Ohio; and Joel Berke, a
former Deputy Assistant Secretary of H.E.W. and a school finance expert. Our
state constitutions require, they direct, that quality education be
available to all of our young people. But when one community is able to
raise and spend per pupil two thousand, three thousand dollars, and another
is only able to spend five hundred dollars or a thousand dollars, that state
is not doing its job. That's not equal opportunity. It's unfair. I think
it's scandalous. It happens because the quality of education depends on the
neighborhood in which a child's parents happen to live. If it's a wealthy
neighborhood, they have a chance to get a decent education. If it's a poor
neighborhood, they lose out. We cannot let that continue. We have
responsibility at the state level to provide full, fair funding.
Thank you, Advocate Antonin Scalia, who is a
professor of law at the University of Chicago Law School says "No."
Thank you, Mike. Ladies and gentlemen, he who pays
the piper calls the tune. Adoption of tonight's proposal will reduce the
community responsiveness of local schools to about that of your local Bureau
of Motor Vehicles. It is a recipe for alienation, for bureaucracy, and for
apathy. With me tonight to oppose full state funding are Thomas Shannon,
Executive Director of the National School Board Association, and to his
right, James Guthrie, Professor of Education at the University of California
at Berkeley, and a veteran member of the Berkeley School Board. In recent
years, we have all been affected by a sense of powerlessness, a feeling that
important decisions closely affecting our lives and the lives of our
children are increasingly being made by remote legislative bodies and even
worse, remote and faceless bureaucracies over which we have no
control—decisions concerning how much to spend and decisions concerning what
to spend it for. Tonight's proposal will significantly accelerate that trend
by eliminating one of the few remaining areas of genuine, local control.
Most of its concrete effects are uncertain. One cannot tell, for example,
how much it will raise or lower the funds available to your particular
school district. What is certain, however, is first that it will impose a
statewide uniformity in an area of human choice where there is no single
correct answer; and second, that it will eliminate any realistic local
control and thereby any effective citizen control over the substance, the
cost, and the quality of education.
Thank you very much, gentlemen. We'll be back to
your cases in a moment, but first let me put two additional questions to our
QUBE system viewers here in Columbus. Many people have thought of this issue
as a tax issue, that state funding of schools is a way to lower local
property taxes. So let me ask our QUBE viewers this: Would you be willing to
pay more in state taxes, in sales, corporate, and/or income taxes to pay for
schools if that would reduce your local property taxes? If you your answer
is "Yes," please push button number 1. If the answer is "No," please push
button number 2. If you're undecided, please push button number 3; and
please respond now. This is obviously the tough kind of question that
citizens and legislatures are going to have to be wrestling with all over
this country as they deal with the difficult problem of state school
funding, and let's turn now and see what the results are. Forty-five percent
say "Yes," they'd be willing to pay more in state taxes to reduce local
property taxes; 39 percent say "No;" and an all-important 16 percent say
Let me put another question to our QUBE system viewers
before we move to our debate itself, and that is the relationship between
money and educational quality. Assuming that your school system is
reasonably well run these days, do you feel that spending more money per
student will mean a better education for those youngsters? If your answer is
"Yes," please press button number 1. If your answer is "No," please press
button number 2, and would you please respond now. And now, Governor
Anderson, would you present your first witness.
As our first witness, we'd like to call on John
Welcome to The Advocates, Mr. Lloyd. Before we go
to your questions, let's turn and see how our QUBE audience responded to
that last question. Thirty-one percent think that spending more money means
better education. Sixty-three percent say it will not mean a better
education, and 6 percent of our QUBE system viewers are undecided.
We would like to recount, please.
Mr. Lloyd, would you just tell us very briefly
how we presently fund public education in America?
In general, education is funded on a school
district-by-school district basis, with the preponderance of the funds
generated by local property taxation; and the states supplement those
locally raised revenues in a number of ways.
What's wrong with that? What are the
The shortcomings are that this leads to very
substantial disparities in dollars per pupil among the school districts. And
that is simply because there's no uniformity in the assessed valuation for
real estate taxation on tax rate which is applied to the property
Could you give us some specific examples, in
terms of specific dollar amounts.
I'll give you some Ohio examples; in Cincinnati, the
Cincinnati school district receives a total of, of a little over eleven
hundred dollars in local revenue in state basic aid per pupil. Contiguous to
it is the Princeton school district which receives over twenty-three hundred
dollars. It happens that the Columbus school district, which is now
financially destitute, receives a little over eleven hundred dollars in
total of state basic aid and local revenue. Now again, in Cuyahoga County,
the Cleveland school district, which is absolutely on the ropes financially,
receives fourteen hundred dollars per pupil, as compared with neighboring
Beechwood which has thirty-three hundred dollars per pupil in local revenue
and state basic aid.
The two examples you gave—we're talking about a
district that has twice as much money, more than twice as much as a
That's right, sir.
Would the property taxes in the one district be
higher or lower?
Well, you can't always tell, Governor. The property
taxes are, are almost always lower. That is, the revenue generated per pupil
from property taxation will be very low in the districts which are
Do the dollar differences make any difference in
terms of quality of education?
They make very substantial differences.
The dollar disparities per pupil translate into very
great disparities and expenditures per pupil for the various components of
instruction, such as teachers, textbooks, educational supplies, and
equipment. These in turn translate into substantial differences in the
quantity and quality of educational opportunity provided by the
So, in your judgment, there's a direct
relationship between the dollars available and the programs that are
There, there is a, an absolute and direct
relationship between the two. Now, how do we know this? Because we
identified the districts that are well financed, and we examined in detail
the educational programs provided in those districts. We did the same thing
with the destitute districts, and we compared the differences between the
Do the children actually benefit from these
They, they benefit directly and measurably. In, in
case after case, we know that when intensified educational services are
provided to children, those children benefit. They benefit immediately, and
they benefit measurably in terms of testing.
Would it also be fair to say that the children
who are in the poor district have a disadvantage?
They have a very substantial disadvantage in that
they simply don't receive the educational resources which enable them to
maximize their talents. The differences between the well financed and the
poorly financed districts are dramatic. The well financed districts have
expanded curriculum, plenty of extracurricular activities, low pupil-teacher
ratios, abundant up-to-date textbooks and educational materials, modern,
well-lighted air-conditioned plants—all the things that contribute to a, an
excellent educational opportunity. On the other hand, in the destitute
districts, the pupil-teacher ratios are very high. There are not tutors and
other specialists to help children with special needs. Both children with
educational deficits and gifted children are neglected in those districts.
Plants are obsolete, and this is a very substantial disadvantage which is
visited upon the children.
Are these, is this unfair, and this, this
disparity, is it almost required under the existing system?
A brief response, Mr. Lloyd.
Those disparities are inherent under a system where
the quality of a child's education is dependent upon the wealth of his
Can they be reduced or eliminated?
Governor Anderson will have an opportunity to ask
you some additional questions. But let's turn now—don't go away—let's turn
now to Mr. Scalia who's going to be in a position to cross-examine you here
Mr. Lloyd, you, you asserted that the disparity in
wealth between districts leads to, that is the term you used, leads to
disparity in funding. Let me give you some statistics, and you tell me how
one explains it. The state of Connecticut, which is the third highest state
in the country in per capita income, taxes itself the lowest in the country,
in the percentage of its total income that is devoted to education. New
Mexico, which is the forty-fifth in per capita income, taxes itself the
third highest in the country in the percentage spent for public education.
Alaska, which has the highest per capita income, also taxes itself at the
highest level, relative to its total income for education. There is
obviously no correlation whatever in these figures between the wealth of the
state and the extent to which the people of the state are willing to devote
their, their resources to education.
Do you have a question?
The question is how do you explain those figures
and how are they consistent with your assertion that differences in wealth
lead to differences in willingness to fund? I assert that the differences in
willingness of people to fund their schools is based on other factors which
are important to them.
Counselor, let me tell you that Ohio ranks dead last
in percentage of per capita income devoted to education of all kinds. And
Ohio has probably the worst public schools in the United States.
Does it—. That may well be. But the relationship to
wealth or poverty is not demonstrated. And it seems to me it's crucial to
your case. You—. Could you tell us, as far as the utility of devoting more
money, more money for the schools is concerned, what increment, how many
unit gains in performance are achieved by increasing the per capita student
Well, there's no way to answer that question. I
think that's a non-issue in school finance, Counselor. What's really
important is to provide the school children an equal opportunity to
participate in the benefits of a quality educational system. Many factors
enter into student performance, as measured by standard test scores. But, we
can all agree, I think, that every child is entitled to the same opportunity
to benefit from the public school system that every other child is entitled
to. And that's why I think we have to approach this.
Mr. Lloyd, let me follow the principle you're
espousing to its logical conclusion. We are in agreement with you, I think,
that the state has an obligation to provide an adequate base of education
for everyone in this state. Where we differ is that you assert that in
addition to providing an adequate base, it has to provide an absolute
equality, or very near an absolute equality of the frills, if you want to
call them that, above the adequate base. Now, if you apply this principle to
education, why don't you apply it to police services, for example, which are
certainly just as important to the community. Should every community in the
state have to have the same degree of police protection even though it wants
more or wants less?
Counselor, I'm glad you asked me that question.
Education is a fundamental constitutional right. Police protection is
I'm talking about education above the minimum that
the state should be obliged to provide, above—
—above the basically adequate education.
All right. Let me tell you what I think the minimum
is. I think the minimum is a sufficiently enriched program so that every
child has an opportunity to realize his individual potential to the fullest.
We are not providing that in this state. We are not coming close to it; I
might suggest to you that it's not being provided in most of the states of
But you agree that some people may think that's
more than others.
We may disagree about whether it takes $2,500 per
pupil or $3,000 per pupil to provide a quality education. But you would not
disagree with me that a state such as Ohio, which provides $1,200 a pupil,
when the national average is $2,000, is coming anywhere close to providing
whatever the minimum may be.
I'm glad you mentioned—. I'm glad you mentioned
Mr. Scalia, I'm sorry. Gentlemen, I'm sorry I have
to interrupt. We're going to have to go back to Governor Anderson for
another question or two.
Sir, could we develop rather easily a model of a
quality school district and cost it out?
Yes. As a matter of fact, we did that in Ohio, in
Ohio. We took at a— acknowledged good school district, the Princeton school
district of Hamilton County. It has good racial balance. It has over 6,000
children. It's a very typical, and we know that it's a good school district
by a variety of tests, a consensus among educators, among other things. We
identified the things which that district did for kids, and we determined
what it cost to duplicate that. And our determination was, that as of 1977,
it would take about $1,750 per pupil. Yes. This problem is very easy to
solve, Governor. It's not tough.
Thank you very much.
Thank you very much, Mr. Lloyd, for being with us.
Appreciate it. We're going to be going to Mr. Scalia in just a moment for
his first rebuttal witness. But let me ask our audience on the QUBE system
another question. If the state pays for most or all of public education, do
you feel that it will lead to a loss of local control of the schools? If
your answer is "Yes," would you please push button number 1. If your answer
is "No," would you please push button number 2. If you are not decided on
that, please push button number 3; and would you please respond now. And
now, Mr. Scalia, would you present your first witness.
I, I call Mr. Thomas Shannon.
Welcome to The Advocates, Mr. Shannon. Nice to
have you with us. Before we get into your questions and answers, let's turn
and see how our QUBE system audience did on this last question. The "yes's"
win by a substantial margin— 67 percent think that there will be a loss of
local control; only 19 percent think that there will not be; some 14 percent
are undecided. Mr. Scalia, you're on.
Mr. Shannon, as Executive Director of the National
School Boards Association, I'm sure you've had ample opportunity to observe
and consider the problems involved in, in this issue tonight. Could you tell
us briefly why it is that you are opposed to a system of full state
I think there are three problems with any proposal
for the state to assume full funding for the public schools with its
concomitant equal expenditure by all districts. The first one is, contrary
to what Mr. Lloyd said, the United States Supreme Court disagrees with the
basic premise of full state funding, that quality of education depends on
equality of dollars provided, provided, of course, that the, that there is
at least some kind of a reasonable base of money. It is not the
constitutional requirement for equality of funding. The United States
Supreme Court said that in the very famous Rodriguez case in the San Antonio
Federal District Court. Secondly, I think, and the pollsters bear this up,
it cautions local control of and accountability for the public schools by
shifting the significant educational dollar decision-making from the local
community up to the state level. And thirdly, as a result of this loss of
local control, I think it weakens public interest in, and involvement in,
the public schools. The public schools cannot survive without the active
support of the public. And I believe to remove the locus of control from the
local community to an entirely different arena, the state capitol, it's like
moving your local school house and control over that local school house
hundreds of miles away to a remote destination. For those three reasons I
think it has very serious problems.
Mr. Shannon, the proponents, of, of this
proposition bring it forward as the means of eliminating the disparity in
the economic status of various districts, thereby enabling each district to
give its children the same type of education. If that were the sole
objective, if that were the sole objective, would it be necessary to go to a
system of state funding?
I don't think so. I think there is an alternative.
In fact, there are several alternatives. Full state funding is just one of a
whole panoply of, of choices to provide a reasonable and equitable kind of
equalization throughout the state. As a matter of fact, the only reason why
full state funding is an issue today is because the so-called equalization
formulas of years ago did not equalize; and as a result, the, the evil of,
of depending upon the gratuitous amount of taxable property in a district
having a connection to the quality of education arose and this whole series
of legisla—, litigation.
Is it not the case that a system of full state
funding equalizes not merely the ability of each district to tax itself on
an equal level if it wishes to do so, but it goes beyond that and prevents
districts, even though they may have equal ability, from taxing themselves
at different levels?
That's exactly correct. A concomitant of full
state funding is control over the amount of money spent in the local school
district at the state level, so that all school districts are
Gentlemen, I'm afraid I have to interrupt at this
moment. Mr. Scalia, you will have an opportunity to ask Mr. Shannon some
additional questions. Let's move now to Governor Anderson for some
Mr. Shannon, just to maybe clarify one point, I
think that what you said with respect to the Supreme Court was accurate.
They said that quality education was not a fundamental right guaranteed
under the United States Constitution. I think that—
But wouldn't you also agree almost every single
state constitution directs the legislature to provide for quality and equal
education throughout that state? Isn't that also a fact?
Oh yes. There's no question about it.
So, the state constitutions require it. It's not
the federal Constitution?
It's a question, I believe, of how the
equalization is done. I believe that full state funding is anathema to
representative government at the local level.
Isn't it also clear that in the Rodriguez case,
the court, the federal court, very clearly urged, urged the state
legislature, in local units of government, to take appropriate action and
correct an imbalance, where in one neighborhood they're spending three and
four thousand dollars per pupil and in another district a couple hundred
Never, though, at the expense of local
As someone who's spent a great deal of time in
education, wouldn't you agree when the difference here in Ohio is $4,740 in
one district and $757 in another district, in Suffolk County in New York/
$4,000 in one district, $1,000 in another, where would you want to send your
children to the public school—where they're spending $4,000 per pupil or
There's no question about it—$4,000.
—But full state funding is not the only way to get
Let's talk a little bit about the control issue
because I think all of us here are very, very concerned that control be kept
at the local level. You've been in California for a long while. You were
there when the state was only furnishing about 35 percent public support.
Remember those days?
Do you remember that four volume code of
This is when the state was furnishing very little
money. And what was that— those volumes? It was regulations dealing with
teacher tenure, textbooks, curriculum, teacher certification. They even told
you what you had to do with a first-aid kit. In other words, there was very
little local control, that kind of local control we all wanted—even back
then before the state moved in with more support and Proposition 13 and all
Governor Anderson, let's let Mr. Shannon respond
to that. Mr. Shannon—
Well, I, I, I think it's a fundamental fact in
representative government that people go to the source of the funding—not
where the funding is distributed—that where this, the money is generated—and
that's at the state legislature. If the state legislature can control the
amount of funds that local school districts get completely and exclusively,
you're going to have situations where the teacher unions will be going to
the state Department of Education and the legislature. All the special
interest groups, the physical education groups, all of them with very
meritorious claims. The point is that they are sophisticated. They are all
highly intelligent people, and they will be going where the bucks are. And
the bucks are going to be at the legislature. They are going to by-pass
their local school board entirely because budgetary impact on program is
enormous. You can't control program without controlling the budget.
Here in Columbus they're trying to borrow money
so the kids can stay in schools for the rest of the year. They find it
impossible to raise property taxes. We understand why. Their only hope is to
get some money from the state. If we're going to give that local school
district more non-property tax sources from state level, haven't we given
them more control? If the only alternative is no more money for education or
higher property taxes on their homes, what kind of freedom is that? What
kind of local control is that?
A brief response please, Mr. Shannon.
I think it's a tough situation, and that goes back
—problem of the property tax-
—which is not necessarily endemic to the whole
question of full state funding.
Thank you very much.
—I'm sorry I have to interrupt. Let's go back to
Mr. Scalia for an additional question or two. Mr. Scalia—
Mr. Shannon, would the effect of the adoption of
full state funding be to increase the average financial support for
I don't think there's any evidence to show
Is, is there any reason to believe that the result
might be the contrary?
Oh yes. I believe so. As a matter of fact, you
enter into a, I think, a whole new arena. First of all, education will be
competing with other programs at the state level for state funding, which
traditionally have always been funded by the state, including such areas as
welfare, of highway department, with even in a schizophrenic sort of a way,
with higher education itself, which has always been funded there. So, I, I
think it's a very tenuous thing to say that full state funding will bring
more money; indeed, it could even be less.
So, whereas up to now, local education has had its
own separate preserve which it could use, you're suggesting that when it
gets thrown into the pot with all the other state programs, it may come out
with less money.
Gentlemen, on that note-
Thank you, Mr. Shannon.
—thank you very much for being with us, Mr.
Thank you very much.
For those of you who may have joined us late,
we're debating the question, "Should your state assume financial control of
its public schools?" Governor Anderson has presented one witness; Mr. John
Lloyd represents the Cincinnati school district and has argued very
strenuously that there must be state assumption of all or most of the cost
of public education.
Mr. Scalia, on the other hand, has presented his first
witness, Mr. Thomas Shannon, who has argued that to do so would mean a
substantial reduction in the amount of local control and local input into
public education. Before we move on to Mr. Scalia's second witness, let me
put another question to our QUBE system audience here in the Columbus area.
Do you think that state financing of all or nearly all of public education
would cause the community and the citizens to lose interest in what's
happening in their schools? If your answer is "Yes," would you please push
button number 1. If your answer is "No," would you please push button number
2. If you're undecided, push button number 3; and would you please respond
now. And Mr. Scalia, would you call your next witness?
I call Mr. James Guthrie.
Welcome to The Advocates, Mr. Guthrie. Before we
begin with your questions and your answers, let's turn and see how our
Columbus audience feels about the question we just put to them. The question
was, "Will state school funding cause a loss of citizen and community
interest in public schools?" Forty-nine percent of our QUBE system audience
thinks it would. Forty-four percent says "No." Seven percent is undecided.
We have a very split audience out there this evening. Mr. Scalia—
Let's see if we can change it Mr. Guthrie. Mr.
Guthrie, as a professor of education and a member of the Berkeley School
Board, you must have had some opportunity to observe the relationship
between expenditures of money and the quality of education. Could you
describe exactly what that relationship is?
I've studied that question professionally, and
I've operated with it practically as a school board member. And certainly in
some gross way, very gross way, there is a relationship between money and
the quality of schooling. I mean, it would be foolish to argue that in the
absence of money, you could operate a school. However, to argue that there
is a very close or systematic relationship is, is equally foolish. Ever
since 1966 when the famous sociologist James S. Coleman studied that topic
and concluded that money by itself was not, not an influential variable in
the amount of a child's performance, we've not had any studies which have
followed that which have turned it around substantially. Now, for anyone who
thinks that money is the root of the educational problem, they've
constructed a canard, they've constructed a false hope. Imagine, for
example, in the last 15 years, this nation has ex—, has increased school
expenditures by over 200 percent, even when you control for inflation. And
over that same period of time, as we all know too dismally, student
performance has plummeted.
Mr. Guthrie, do—. I gather you're suggesting that
we don't know at what level an additional buck is no longer working. Might
it also be possible that an additional buck might be worth it in one
community but not be worth it in another community, depending upon the
peculiar characteristics of the students involved?
Absolutely. And that's something which cannot be
determined scientifically at the very abstract and distant level of the
state capitol. There's no way to draw a policy which can determine carefully
how much any particular child needs to have spent on him or her. That's a
decision that has to be made locally by those people close to children who
can tailor the program to whatever a child's particular needs are.
In other words, to achieve equality of results, it
may well be that you not only must avoid, but you in fact positively need
inequality of dollar input.
As a professional and a practitioner, I would
resist to my very soul any effort to spend the same amount of money on every
child. That undoubtedly will lead to a disadvantaged situation for those
youngsters who need more than the average spent on them.
Mr. Guthrie, you're from California and have been
active in local school affairs. I'd be curious to know if you see any
relationship between the issue we're debating this evening and your famous
Well, the results are already coming in; and
they're quite unfavorable. In order for the legislature to bail out local
school districts after Proposition 13, it was necessary to pump in mammoth
additional amounts of state money; so that now the state funds about 72
cents out of every school dollar spent in California. And a consequence of
that, we've already seen that public interest, voter interest, in the
schools has become substantially dampened over time. It is the case, also,
that local educators have lost the link to the public that they're trying to
serve. They, they argue on occasion why should we try to tailor our school
program to what the local client wants. It's the people in the state capitol
who are pulling the strings now. We have to please them.
Mr. Guthrie, may I ask you, before Proposition
13, what percentage was provided by the state treasury?
The state provided approximately 40, 41 cents out
of every dollar prior—
It is now up to over 70?
That, that's correct. And not only has the state
added more dollars, but the state education code, which as Governor Anderson
mentioned, was four volumes before Proposition 13, is now climbing up close
to seven volumes.
Mr. Scalia, one last question.
Just concerning the last effect, would, would you
urge the Governor of California, when he, when he proposes a tax increase
for more education not to specify what that tax increase is going to be used
A brief response please.
I regret that I would not give any advice to the
Governor of California along those lines. But I would certainly hope that he
would raise more money for education but let the local people determine how
best it should be spent.
All right, Mr. Guthrie. Let's go to Governor
Anderson who has some questions for you.
Sir, do you feel that local communities should
have the right to approve or reject a school budget?
Local communities should have the right to
approve or reject a school budget in excess of some minimum amount necessary
for equal educational opportunity for every youngster.
Who's going to determine the minimum amount?
Would that come from Sacramento, from Governor Brown, or how would that be
That is the rightful providence of the state
legislature, but to determine more than that minimal amount is something I
believe should be a decision made by the people.
But the critical decision of determining the
minimum would be made in Sacramento.
Correct, the minimum.
Do you believe a school district sch—, school
district should have the right by defeating school budgets to deny children
a decent education or to close schools?
That's like asking one when did they stop beating
their wife. I certainly don't want to deny any youngster opportunity or a
good education. The question is will additional amounts of money help them
and who should make that decision.
Doesn't it also mean we have to have and give to
the local school board meaningful alternatives? Wasn't it a fact in
California that one of the items that brought on Proposition 13 were
regressive, almost confiscatory property taxes. Isn't that a fact?
—that brought us Proposition 13 was the failure
of the legislature to respond to the expressed preferences of the public;
and they delayed it time after time after time.
Sir, wasn't it the clear preference of the
public in California, as in Minnesota and Wisconsin, that they were fed up
with the funding of public education? It was based too heavily on property
No there is no—, there's no evidence—
You're denying that in California heavy
regressive property taxes did not help lead to Proposition 13?
What led to Proposition 13 is the failure of the
You're not responding to the question.
You have not asked a fair question. And I will
respond to a fair question such, such as this. This is the question you
should have asked.
Go right ahead. Go right ahead.
The question you should have asked is, "Are
legislative bodies sufficiently sensitive to the desires and dreams of this
nation; or can they respond, can local officials respond more positively to
what people aspire for their children?" And I think local officials have
proved repeatedly that they can.
Here is the answer that I was hoping for, which
I think is also an accurate one—that in California you had several hundred
million dollar surplus. People were literally finding it impossible to keep
their homes because of regressive taxes. The governor, the legislature, did
nothing. Proposition 13 in part resulted. Isn't it also fair?
That is fair. In public opinion polls, when
Californians were queried as to what they would like to see reduced, they
seldom mentioned high spending on schools. What they wanted to see was more
efficient government operation in many other places. And the legislature,
again, refused or failed in some fashion to respond to that public
Sir, here in America, wouldn't you believe and
agree that we literally have thousands of talented young minority children,
gifted children, who will never meet their full potential because the
property taxes in that local school district are inadequate to provide them
with that opportunity?
Interestingly, while it is certainly the case
that there are probably not thousands but hundreds of thousands of talented,
capable minority youngsters, the large proportion of them reside in cities
in this nation where expenditures are the highest. It is not only more money
that they need; we must go after many more fundamental reforms in schooling.
If you shift the decision making to the state level, certainly that is not
going to be any guarantee that these youngsters will have the opportunity to
express their talents.
Sir, sir, isn't it—
A very brief question, Governor Anderson, and a
very brief answer please.
—Isn't it the fact that the middle class—white
and black—in the last 20 years, has been fleeing the core cities in part
looking for quality education someplace else?
A brief response please, Mr. Guthrie.
And interestingly when they have fled those
cities for many reasons, they have fled places which typically spend the
most on education in this nation with lower property taxes.
I'm sorry. I have to interrupt. Mr. Guthrie,
thank you very much for being with us. Appreciate it. We'll be going back to
Governor Anderson for his final witness. But first, another question for our
QUBE audience here in Columbus. And it is this: Do you think that a system
of state funding for public education will lower the quality of the better
schools in our public education system? If your answer is "Yes," would you
please push button number 1. If your answer is "No," please push button
number 2. If you're undecided, please push button number 3; and would you
please respond now. Now, let's go back to Governor Anderson for the case for
state funding and his rebuttal witness.
I'd like to call Mr. Joel Berke.
Welcome to The Advocates, Dr. Berke. Before we
get to your questions and answers, let's turn and see how our audience in
Columbus responded to the question on whether or not state funding would
lower the quality of better schools. Fifty-six percent think it would.
Thirty-five percent think it would not, and ten percent are undecided.
Governor Anderson, your work is cut out for you.
Sir, we've heard a lot of talk about local
control here tonight. Would you care to comment, and are there any
statistics which would tell us whether or not more expenditures from the
state level for education necessarily lead to more control?
Well, I think it's clear that what research we do
have works against the notion that he who pays the piper calls the
We have had examinations of the degree of control
in states of the various educational activities of local districts and how
that correlates with the proportion of funding in those states. What we find
is that there is no relationship that, that some states have high control
over their local governments; others have low, and that funding is not
related to it.
Let me move on to the funding issue. Do you have
an opinion with respect to whether or not the amount of money spent per
pupil relates at all to quality?
Yes, I have an opinion; and I think there's also
some research that bears that out. I think it's clear that it is not dollars
that go into school rooms. It's teachers, facilities, equipment,
psychologists, guidance counselors, and others. And we have—, we're able to
compete better for higher quality teachers and guidance counselors and to
put more of them before the classes where we have more funds available. But
it's not simply a matter of common sense and common experience. We do have
research on that question, and it's come a long way since the Coleman report
and some of the research which Professor Guthrie is referring to. We've had
studies which don't take these large aggregate kinds of studies, but rather
they look at the particular treatment, at particular pupils, and particular
schools, time of exposure to teaching, kind of curriculum they get, size of
the classroom and follow students; and what we find is that in fact, as the
resources increase, students do better.
Are we suggesting, those of us that are on this
side of the table, that our goal is to spend exactly the same number of
dollars per pupil?
No, I think that, that's a, a simple-minded notion
that I know no one who supports, who supports it. In fact, the states that
are moving in the direction of higher state funding frequently provide
priorities, educationally based, as to amounts of money that ought to be
devoted to the education of different types of pupils and so for pupils
whose learning needs are greater, more resources are assigned—for pupils
with handicaps, for example, or coming from a disadvantaged background, or
perhaps gifted children, or children of vocational curriculum, or children
in grades where the teacher-pupil ratio should be lower. States can assign
greater resources to those pupils, and we certainly would support
Let me get to our major cities in this country.
Somebody is looking for a house in a major city. Do they go school hunting
first or do they go house hunting?
They frequently don't go to the city these days.
They do go school hunting, and it's outside the city. And it is because, as
has already been pointed out, cities need more funds to furnish the same
Well, there are a variety of reasons. But one has
to do with the cost levels in cities. It costs more to get teachers,
secretaries, insurance, land, and everything else in cities. In addition,
the pupil population in cities has a high concentration of pupils who
require higher than average resources for—
Would these—these would be disadvantaged
These are disadvantaged children, these are
handicapped children, these are non-English speaking children, and most of
the others that cost more.
Do you have any comment to make on the Coleman
I think the Coleman report was an early exercise
intended to prove other things than what it has been taken to prove, and I
think it's been used for things which have had no relevance to it. Its
principal author would say the same thing.
Do you have any feelings as to whether or not
thousands of our talented young men and women are being denied a fair
education, an adequate education, in this country?
They are being denied an adequate education, and
they're being denied that education on the basis of the location of property
wealth in school districts. We have heard conversation tonight about the
fact that we shouldn't have distant state legislatures determining how much
money should be available to schools. Well, I would submit that at the
present time, what determines how much money is available to educate
youngsters in schools is the size of the local tax base. And study after
study has shown that correlation. The higher the tax base, the higher the
So, what can be done?
What can be done is to do away with a system which
bases its funding on the local property tax base, to shift that funding to
the state where it belongs; it's a state responsibility to assure equal
educational opportunity. And at least as far as the financing aspect of it
goes, not the decision-making aspect, but the financing aspect of it goes,
that should be shifted; and those can be separated, and have been separated,
with no mistakes.
Gentlemen, I'm sorry I have to interrupt—
Thank you very much.
—Mr. Scalia, some questions please for Dr.
Mr. Berke, like the other witness for the
proponents here, you, you have asserted that the reason we need full state
funding is to enable poor districts to keep up with rich districts. But you
really don't need full state funding for that. You could adopt a statewide
formula whereby if a rich district imposes a one-dollar tax or one mill tax,
it will bring in the same amount of revenue as if a poor district does. You
don't need full state funding to do that. What you need full state funding
to do is to go beyond that and to prevent a rich district, or for that
matter, a middle class or a poor district, if, if it wishes, to prevent it
from spending more even if it wants to. Is that not the truth?
I once believed that there might be a possibility
of narrowing these scandalous gaps in expenditures and educational services
by the mechanism you referred to, that is, by equalizing the capacity to
support education. We've now had some experience. It's not guess work. We've
seen what's happened in a number of states that have attempted that
mechanism, and it has not worked.
Because people don't want to support education to
the same degree in different localities—correct?
Because there's a difference in the capacity to pay
property taxes that has to do with one's income as well the range of other
The capacity can be equalized. The capacity can be
equalized without full state funding as you've acknowledged.
The capacity has not been equalized without full
But it can be. But it can be.
Well, we're living in a real world Mr. Scalia, and
that's the one that I uphold.
Well, if you think the full state funding proposal
is the real world, I'd like to know what you propose to do about the people
who have hunted schools instead of hunted houses, as you say. The people who
have made an investment in real estate in Shaker Heights, or wherever, on
the basis of the high quality of those schools, what do we do—just write
them off and say, "Sorry, you've made a mistake; we've changed our mind now,
and your home, despite how much you paid for it, is going to be worth no
more as far as the educational quality goes, as, as a home somewhere
No. I would do those people in Shaker Heights the,
the fine service of treating them like all other citizens in the state. I
would ask them to pay the same kinds of taxes that other people now pay, the
high rates that other people pay, and not to have—
They pay higher rates now.
No they don't. They usually pay lower rates. The,
there is a negative correlation—that is, there is generally a lower property
tax rate in school districts with high spending levels and high tax base per
pupil because they have such a tremendous advantage in the, in the amount of
property tax available.
That's certainly not the case in the inner cities,
is it? They spend-
—more than other districts in the suburbs.
That's right. The inner cities—
—are a special place. That's all you know
What about this, Mr. Berke, what do you say to the
fact that New Hampshire makes a per capita student expenditure of $1,430?
One can step across the border into Massachusetts where the per capita
student expenditure is $2,134—50 percent higher. Other states have even more
disparity. Ohio, for example, spends about half as much per capita as New
York. Now, if it is inequitable between districts within a state, I assume
it's just as inequitable across the state border. Are you in favor of having
federal funding of local education?
We have a federal system in this country, Mr.
Scalia, in which the traditional assignment of the basic funding of
education has been to the states, which have constitutional provisions, as
you well know for equal opportunity.
I could say the same thing about local
We have a traditional local school system in which
the funding of schools has traditionally been local, been local.
I'll answer your question another way.
If the tradition doesn't affect you there, why
should it affect you with—
I think the federal government should support
education more fully than it currently does.
Fully—so that there won't be the discrepancy
between Ohio and, and New York.
I think there is value in our federal system. I
think it is a state responsibility for basic support. I think there should
be more federal support, but what we have is a system in which we share
influence in every school district in every state in the nation, among the
national government with its concerns, the states, and the local
governments. And that's the way I'd like to see it maintained.
You mentioned that there is no evidence, that,
that the evidence is that, that funding does not, does not bring control.
But in fact, we don't have any examples of cases where the state funding is
more than about two-thirds, leaving one-third of broad discretion within the
local districts, do we? There's only one state that funds fully, which is
This will have to be the—
—is it not true that there is no local control in
Gentlemen, this will have to be the last answer
and the last question.
Hawaii was a monarchy control, and I think it's not
It is nonetheless the only state that has full
On that note, Dr. Berke, thank you very much for
being with us. Appreciate it. Now we come to that time in our debate where
each advocate has one minute in which to give us his closing argument, and
Governor Anderson will begin.
Thank you, Governor. We believe in public
education. We believe our country desperately needs every American mind,
every American talent developed to the fullest, whether that American live
in a core city, on a farm, or in the suburbs. The present system is a
failure for thousands and thousands of our young people. It's an
embarrassment to all thinking and caring people. We have three choices. We
can continue to do what we're doing, which is inadequate. We can do less, or
we can try to do better, which is what we're trying to do right here
tonight. Or we can—, I think that every American can support this effort, to
live up to our constitutional mandate and do what the law requires, do
what's best for ourselves and our country, which is to invest a few more
dollars in our young people. Thank you very much.
Thank you, Governor Anderson. Mr. Scalia, you,
too, have one minute.
The fundamental fallacy of the proposal for full
state funding is that it presumes and seeks to enforce a statewide consensus
as to how much expenditure on public education is desirable. But as we have
seen, there is no such consensus, neither within the states nor among them.
Different communities come to widely divergent conclusions, and the
conclusions do not depend primarily upon wealth, but upon varying
assessments regarding how much education is enough and how good a job their
own schools are in fact doing.
The proponents have given no adequate reasons for
abolishing this freedom of community choice and requiring all communities to
adhere to a funding level which perhaps none of them thinks ideal. As
opposed to the unknown benefits, there are inevitable costs, prime among
which is the loss of local control. If there is any proposition of
institutional behavior that is absolutely certain, it is that control and
funding, full funding, are inseparable. I urge you to hang on to your
schools. Vote "No" on tonight's proposition. Thank you.
Thank you, gentlemen. Now's the time in our
debate where we turn to you in our audience and ask you how you feel. And
first, I'm going to ask our QUBE system viewers the question we've been
debating this evening. Should your state assume financial control of its
schools? If your answer is "Yes," please push button number 1. If your
answer is "No," please push button number 2; and if you're undecided, please
push button number 3; and please respond now. For the rest of our national
audience, would you send us your "Yes" or "No" vote with your comments on a
postcard and mail it to The Advocates, Box 1979, Boston, 02134. And now
let's take a look at the answers that we're getting from our QUBE system
"Yes," 40 percent; "No," 54 percent; "Undecided," 7
percent on the fundamental question we debate this evening. That compares
with 38 percent "Yes,"46 percent "No," and 15 percent "Undecided," some
variation between the beginning and the end of our debate.
On April 1, The Advocates debated the question, "Should we
have a constitutional amendment requiring a balanced federal budget?" And
our Advocates audience responded this way: 65 percent said "Yes," and 35
percent said "No."
On April 8, we debated the question, "Should Congress
substantially increase federal funding for public broadcasting?" And our
audience responded this way: 64 percent said "Yes," and 36 percent said
And on April 22, The Advocates debated the question,
"Should we have a system of compulsory national service for all young
Americans?" And our audience responded this way: 38 percent said "Yes," and
62 percent said "No."
And now with our thanks to Governor Anderson, to Mr.
Scalia, to their distinguished witnesses, to our viewers out there on the
QUBE system in Columbus, and to all of you, and with a special word of
thanks to our host, the Department of Communication here at Ohio State
University, thank you all, and good night.