the VOA Special English Education Report.
million public school children in America are starting a new school year. The
number is a record high. Yet, at the same time, school systems in many areas
are facing budget problems.
economy is not the only cause. Another reason has to do with increased prices
for food and fuel. They mean higher costs for school meals and bus
United States will spend more than five hundred billion dollars on public
education for the coming school year. The federal government helps pay, but the
responsibility for education is mostly on state and local governments.
major sources of money for public schools are property taxes and sales taxes. A
slowdown in consumer spending, the engine of the economy, means fewer goods to
tax. And the collapse of the housing market means less money to collect in
in July from the National Conference of State Legislatures said thirty-one of
the fifty states were having budget problems. And the Center on Budget and
Policy Priorities says school officials in at least eleven states have cut or
proposed cuts in education.
for example, has cut school aid by about two percent per student. State
officials say tax collections are low and lottery sales have fallen by one
hundred million dollars. Florida and many other states use money from sales of
lottery tickets to help pay for education.
the country, the economic slowdown has added to the numbers of children
receiving free or reduced price lunches at school. In other words, many of the
same economic problems that have hit school budgets have also hit family
Each year, the education group Phi
Delta Kappa and the Gallup organization gather opinions about American public
schools. This year's poll found support for increased use of federal taxes to
finance public schools and to help young people attend college.
People were also asked which
presidential candidate they would vote for if they were voting on the basis of
a desire to strengthen the public schools. Forty-six percent chose Democrat
Barack Obama. Twenty-nine percent chose Republican John McCain.
In the last two presidential
elections, the poll found Americans equally split on which candidate would be
more supportive of the schools.
And that's the VOA Special English
Education Report, written by Nancy Steinbach. To learn more about American
education, go to voaspecialenglish.com. I'm Steve Ember.