Saturday, March 09, 2013

Where is the Casino Money?

From The Washington Post:

The federal sequester requires the Education Department to cut $1.9 billion in aid to the nation’s 15,000 school districts, money used to help educate poor and disabled children from kindergarten through 12th grade. Most districts have already received their federal dollars for the current school year; any impact from sequestration would affect the next school year.

Public education is largely funded by state and local governments; the federal government pays about 10 percent of the costs. Federal dollars are largely concentrated on poor children and those with disabilities, and the amounts are determined according to the number of children in each category in every state.

But two exceptions are schools on Indian reservations and military bases, which receive a larger share of their funds from Washington as compensation for the fact that they cannot raise funds from local property taxes. For example, the federal government pays 60 percent, or $14.7 million, of Window Rock School District’s $24.3 million annual budget.

Don't get me wrong: I understand why Indians, accustomed as they are to getting someone else to pay for their children't schools, don't want to now pay for it themselves. I just don't understand why they can't. Are reservation tribal governments, despite their titular status as separate "nations", prohibited by law from levying property taxes? Are they prohibited from spending their casino wealth on their own schools?

But I need some clarification on the military base schools. As I understand it, the stateside schools and their budgets are controlled by the local public school districts, and have been for some time. The DoD pays the district a per-head subsidy, but non-military children also attend the base schools. (Also as I understand it, these schools tend to be not especially good, reflecting the demographics of the area surrounding the base. But I haven't found the evidence for this that I expected.) The DoD only directly operates schools on bases overseas.

So I assume that these subsidies are now being cut. The local school districts (who had demanded control of the schools in the first place) must now make up the difference (or not). But the base schools are unlikely to go away; their students would still be the district's liability.

Do I have any of this wrong?


Elusive Wapiti said...

Had a large, well-linked comment, but Blogger ate it. Feh.

High points were that DoDDS schools outperform civilian schools and that mil-affiliated schools (both the ones on installation but run by PS districts as well as ones off-installation) did slightly better but the edge was due to demographics...i.e., slightly more white, slightly less hispanic, less poverty, less disabilities.

I speculate also that other factors, such as marital status (mil couples more likely to be married and less likely to be divorce) and mil parents deliberately domiciling in areas with good schools and avoiding the schools in the "gate slums", where such slums exist.

Elusive Wapiti said...

...where such slums exist, helps explain why schools with large numbers of mil-affiliated students do better than those without.

Anecdotally, I've observed that schools located immediately off-base or are "open campus" don't do well or, if mediocre, would be far worse were it not for the large population of mil-affiliated children with invested parents propping things up.

Dr. Φ said...

EW: well said. Case in point: Lackland AFB, TX (near San Antonio). The base is surrounded by a (mostly) Hispanic slum. Not scary like a Black slum, but the schools of the area are rated 2 - 3. The school on Lackland is an 8.

But the important thing to understand is that, unless my information is wrong, DoDDS only operates schools on bases overseas.

Elusive Wapiti said...

"DoDDS only operates schools on bases overseas."

That is my understanding as well.

Dexter said...

Looks to me like the Injuns are not subject to state and local property taxes, but they most certainly do have the power to levy taxes ("Tribes, therefore, possess the right to form their own governments; to make and enforce laws, both civil and criminal; to tax; to establish and determine membership (i.e., tribal citizenship); to license and regulate activities within their jurisdiction; to zone; and to exclude persons from tribal lands.")

Therefore, there is no reason they can't spend mo' money on their schools if the Feds don't ante up; they just don't wanna.

mike shupp said...

In principle Indians tribes may have the right to tax, and perhaps they do some extent. Other hand, have you ever taken a good look at reservations? They've got no industrries as a rule, they aren't stuffed with thriving suburbs, and they're mostly located on the land white settlers didn't want 150 years ago. The average big city slum has a better tax base, and in most states the slum school gets a couple slivers of income from sizable non-slum communities.

That's point 1. You might also contemplate that until well into the 20th century, the federal government was strongly opposed to Indian's educating themselves, and ran its own far-off-the-reservation school system for Indian children. This didn't really start to change until the 1960's, when the Indians started to get "militant."

Putting all this together, Indians basically don't have wonderful school systems for the sorts of reasons southern blacks didn't have wonderful school systems in the 1950's -- shortage of funds, lack of tradition, and surrounding communities perfectly content with this situation.

To be fair, the situation improves with time. Southern blacks have been admitted to top ranked universities, and ditto for American Indians, and I doubt we'll ever go back to the conditions of 1900. But it'll take a while for the sweetness and light to get spread out.

Dr. Φ said...

My post wasn't necessariy about "why Indian schools suck"; I think this article (H.T.: Trumwill) gives some insight as to why "native" people aren't living up to even their limited potential. My question is why can't the Indians' new wealth find its way to their schools if they want it to.