Editor's Note (The View From Here)

Problem (not) Solved

There is rarely time for us to get everything done that needs done, which also means there is never time to look back and see if we made progress. In my library is a copy of an old book, “Planning Schools for Tomorrow: The Issues Involved.” If I removed the reference to the year (which was 1942), you would think it was written yesterday. The issues they faced in 1942 were not so different than the issues we face today.

The same is true of their goals. “1.) A full program of education adapted to the capacities and interests of all the individuals whom the schools should serve. 2.) Carefully selected teachers, supervisors, administrators and specialists such as nurses, physicians, dentists, psychiatrists, librarians etc., who are competent, well-prepared and interested in the development of community life. 3.) Safe and sanitary school buildings, adapted to the education experiences and services to be offered, and adequate grounds and suitable equipment and instructional materials. 4.) An effective state and local organization, coordinated with other state and local educational and social agencies, which make possible the efficient offering of needed educational services. Advisory service from the federal government should be available. 5.) Adequate and joint support by the local, state and federal governments.”

When it came to facilities, the conversation was about accessibility; adequacy with respect to needed services; adequacy with respect to size; arrangement; utilization; possibility of rearrangement; and the possibility of expansion — conversations we are still having nearly 75 years later.

Adequate funding for education was, and still is, a concern. During the year that ended June 30, 1940, the U.S. spent approximately $2.7 billion for public elementary, secondary and higher education. The book says, “To offer the education program needed in this country would require a minimum expenditure of approximately $5 billion a year for regular current expenses. An additional $5 billion at least, is needed for the repair of old, and the construction of new, school buildings.”

The concern remains the same, but the dollars needed and being spent have increased. The projected current expenditures for elementary and secondary schools in 2015 is $576 billion; and according to the SP&M research on school construction, nearly $12.9 billion in construction was completed in 2015 (see page 17 for details). While increased funding may have improved some things, we still have a long way to go. Seventy-five years later and the issues remain the same!

This article originally appeared in the issue of .