The American public school system is often thought about as a contained ecosystem. We pay our taxes, tax funds are allocated to schools and school districts, and the funds are used in compliance with regulations and according to the needs of the students, facilities, and teachers.
It’s easy to think that this is the only way that funds enter into public schools, but this simply isn’t the case. Oftentimes, individual donations have a greater impact on school improvements than do taxpayer dollars, simply because they can be allocated to specific projects rather than the daily operations public funds are earmarked for.
Entrepreneur Jason Sugarman is one such philanthropist, who has overseen the dispersal of $2 million to the Fullerton School District. These funds have been used in tangible ways to improve the educational experience and outcomes of students in this district. “Jason is exemplary – people should be doing what he is doing,” said Hilda Sugarman, President of the foundation. “He is an example of someone who realizes the needs in public education and is generous to support those schools that got him where he is today.” Mrs. Sugarman added, “Not enough people give back to their schools.”
The American School system is one of the most diverse and inconsistent found anywhere in the world. This happens for many reasons. America itself is diverse, with more varied populations than on almost any other country on the planet. The way individual schools vie for state and federal funds is as varied. Oftentimes, this results in poor schools being passed over for funds needed to improve education standards and facilities. It’s easy to understand how this can have a whirlpool effect for these school systems, and the communities which they serve.
That’s why philanthropy on the part of the nation’s richest to the nation’s most needy school systems is important. Here are some of the best reasons why.
- Inequality in Education Opportunity Is Harmful to Society. Inequality, at the end of the day, is inefficient and inexpensive. Just as those without healthcare coverage invariably become expensive to hospital budgets and state coffers (those unable to pay often rack up large hospital bills which go unpaid and have to be taken as a loss by the hospital, or met with tax dollars). Education works the same way. Those who remain ignorant of the information necessary to make a solid personal and professional life are much more likely to need government assistance, take part in socially harmful crimes, take dangerous drugs, and otherwise contribute to a less stable society for all.
- Poor Education Restricts American Growth. If we can accept that intelligence is distributed more or less equally across populations, we realize that funding educational opportunities for all citizens is important in unlocking the potential among these populations. Not only is this impact felt on a community and social level, it has huge ramifications for American industry and scientific advancement. School systems are where future innovators are nurtured, and it’s easy to imagine that many have failed to reach their potential as a result of educational neglect.
- Poor Education is Bad For America’s Reputation. Educational quality is easier to achieve in smaller, more homogenous nations than the United States. Even so, the disparity in educational opportunity is noteworthy, even when compared to other large economies like China and Japan. America’s status in the world is, in part, based on its treatment of the average citizen. And when good education is impossible for a large segment of the population, this has bearing on the trust and respect given to the US from the rest of the world.
For these reasons and more, making charitable donations to America’s school systems is an investment in United States society. It makes sense for individuals, for local and national finance, and for the continued advancement of society. If you have money, consider giving some to a school system near you.