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LIST OF FIGURES
39 40 41 42 43 44
Plane of Living, etc.-Counties of the State of
17. North Carolina..
of the Population, and Plane of Living for-Counties of the
31. South Carolina..
46 47 48
The extent to which educational opportunity may be equalized through the use of funds contributed by the Federal Government depends upon the amounts allocated to the different States; it depends, too, in a very vital way upon the plans of distribution adopted by the States. Federal contributions to a State may be entirely adequate to enable it to equalize educational opportunity up to a minimum defensible program, yet the plan of distribution employed within the State may be such that the funds will not be properly allocated to those geographical and population groups whose cultural needs are greatest and whose ability to provide educational and cultural opportunities is least. Any program designed to provide added opportunity or to ease the burden of support, or to do both, with the use of Federal contributions, may be nullified in large measure by the distribution of funds within the States upon bases other than those of greatest need and least ability.
At present most of the States have distributive funds designed, to a greater or less degree, to equalize educational opportunity. The extent to which the States are, in fact, employing their own funds to equalize educational opportunity and the burden of school support should have a direct bearing upon Federal policy with respect to the basis and methods of distribution of Federal contributions within the States. If it appears that the States are now distributing their own funds in a manner that could be recommended for the distribution of Federal funds, the distribution of Federal contributions might well be left to the discretion of the States; if many or most of the States have not provided funds truly equalizing in character, it may seem to be the better policy to reserve to the Federal Government authority to require a satisfactory plan for the distribution of the Federal contributions.
This investigation of the financing of education in the States applies certain measures in an attempt to determine the effectiveness of the distributive plans of the different States in placing money where the educational burden is heavy, the plane of living low, and the supporting economic structure weak. Neither excellent features nor basic weaknesses of State plans are considered except with respect to the ends they accomplish. The assumption is made that plans are good which, in fact, result in reasonable equalization of educational opportunity and the burden of school support, and that plans which fail to give reasonable equalization, from whatever cause, are unsatisfactory.
Failure to distribute money equitably may be due to a number of reasons. It may be caused by defects in the equalization plan itself, or by the fact that an equalization plan, superimposed upon older methods of distributing funds which were not intended to bring about equalization, does not involve a sum sufficiently large in relation to the funds distributed by other methods to bring about substantial equalization. Or the failure may be due to the lack of an equalization program altogether, which may result because of constitutional provisions which prohibit or prevent equalization. In some instances local communities may be indifferent to education and may fail to exercise the option afforded by what appears to be a reasonably good plan. In this study, however, results rather than plans are considered.
No attempt has been made to distinguish between plans for distributing State funds that are recent and those that
of longer standing. Many States are becoming more and more aware of the shortcomings of their equalization programs, and a number of them have taken steps to remedy the most obvious defects. It must be remembered, however, that authority resides in the States to adopt new laws necessary to establish satisfactory programs of equalization, to repeal old laws, or to amend constitutions that operate to prevent an equitable distribution of funds already available. The responsibility for working out an equitable program for distributing the funds which it makes available for the support of education rests squarely upon the State. For that reason, attention in this study is directed to the
manner in which the total State aid program operates at
In this study no attempt has been made to employ refined measures. The data presented indicate, in a general way, the extent to which States have distributed their funds to areas seemingly most in need of financial assistance; they do not serve as a basis for a specific plan for the distribution of Federal funds within the States. Within States the county has been adopted as the unit of comparison because the measures used are, for the most part, available only by counties.