Tax System and Education Funding


'But, there must be some mistake. I don't want to buy the school.'


In California, the tax system is funded primarily through property tax, sales tax, income tax, the lottery and a few other taxes.  The taxes fund education in the state to provide for every child. “We ought to finance the education of every child in America equitably with adjustments made only for the greater or lesser needs of certain children.  And the funding should all come from the collective wealth of our society” (Brimely, Verstegen, & Garfield, 2016, p.52).  In the United States, most public education is funded through taxes.  “Economists have emphasized the value of education as a factor in stimulating economic growth” (Brimley, Verstegen, & Garfield, 2016, p.2).

The key driver in creating equity in schools has been based on the statement that “education is an investment in human capital” (Concordia University, n.d.).  As we look at different taxes for education we will analyze them based on five criteria: economical to collect, stable, fair and equitable, easy to estimate, difficult to evade.  “A child’s education must not be affected by a wealth of his or her parents or neighbors, except by the wealth of the state as a whole” (Brimely, Vesrstegen, & Garfield, 2016, p.53).

Property Taxes

Property taxes are not economical to collect, due to the rapid changes in property values.  The stability of property taxes varies depending on the housing market and if people are living in their homes.  For example during the recession that occurred in 2007, many homes in certain areas went unoccupied which meant no property tax was being paid.  Brimely, Vesrstegen, & Garfield (2016), use the term regressive to refer to how property taxes are not fair and equitable.  Due to certain laws like Prop 13, neighboring homeowners can own homes of the same value but pay a significant difference in taxes.  In addition to the props, people who are homeowners pay the tax and people who are not homeowners do not have to pay the tax.  The tax is not difficult to evade because you can lose your home if not paid but I feel that it is avoidable by not owning property.  I rank property tax first because it raises the most amount of money through taxes for education. I feel there is a good amount of money to be collected but do not think it is as fair and equitable as other taxes.


Sales Taxes

Sales taxes are economical to collect because most items sold are taxed, but the responsibility of the tax falls on the merchant to collect and pay.  Sales taxes are not quite stable due to changes in the economy.  In a good economy consumers will spend more money, but in a down economy, consumers will spend less which means fewer taxes to collect. The tax is a fair tax and is equitable because it is a percentage of the value of the item and is only collected when purchasing an item.  The tax is also easy to estimate due to it being a simple percentage value.  The tax is one that is difficult to evade because most items merchants sell are required to be taxed.  You can only evade them by purchasing using cash through unethical shop owners.  I rank sales taxes second because I feel that there is a lot of tax to be collected here and that is it more fair and equitable.

 Income Taxes 

Income tax is economical to collect because it is “usually a progressive tax levied on the income a person received during the period of one year” (Brimely, Vesrstegen, & Garfield, 2016, p.127).   Income taxes are stable but can decrease when there is an unemployment rate.  The taxes are fair and equitable because they are based on your overall income and are progressive, taxing you a percentage of your income based on which bracket you fall within on total income.  The taxes are not easy to estimate because there is a lot of variables that determine your taxable income.  This is why there are so many people that do taxes.  I think they are moderately difficult to evade.  While I have, not completed my taxes on time, I know of many people that have not filed taxes in many years. I rank income taxes third because I feel that there is a lot of tax to be collected here, it is fair and equitable, and I feel that it does not overburden each taxpayer because it is based on wealth. Income taxes also serve as an indicator of the “potential of a school district to raise funds” (Brimely, Vesrstegen, & Garfield, 2016, p.67).


The lottery is economical to collect because as Thomas Jefferson calls it, it is a “wonderful thing, it lays taxation only on the willing” (Brimely, Vesrstegen, & Garfield, 2016, p.146).  The lottery is a tax that may not be stable because it is spent using excess monies people have.  I do believe that it is fair and equitable because it is only taxing the people that purchase it.  I think the tax is easy to evade by not participating in the lottery, which makes it a tax that is not easy to estimate because many there are many factors to consider. I rank the lottery fourth because I feel that there it is a tax that is regressive and one that I do not feel should be a priority due to moral concerns with gambling (Brimely, Vesrstegen, & Garfield, 2016).

Sumptuary Tax

Sumptuary tax or an excise tax is collected on items that are deemed to not be in the public interest.  We are encouraged to stop using sumptuary taxed items like tobacco and alcohol.  The tax is one that is economical to collect because it does not overburden the taxpayer.  The tax is one that I do not think is stable because a lot of the money used goes to funding education to prevent its use such as tobacco.  The tax is fair and equitable but can be easy to evade if you do not use the products.  Because the tax is based on consumers purchasing a product that is deemed not good to the public I feel as if it is difficult to estimate or rely upon as a tax source.  I rank sumptuary taxes last because I feel that items that are typically taxed in this criteria are items that we want to stop and an item that we should not rely on for a reliable tax source for funding education (Brimely, Vesrstegen, & Garfield, 2016).

     In conclusion, as we analyzed the different state taxes using the on five criteria: economical to collect, stable, fair and equitable, easy to estimate, difficult to evade; taxes are a necessary tool to ensure quality education is available for our children and our children’s children. “Responsibility for education is a primary role for the state level of government in America’s federal system.  The state ensures that every child is learning in a safe and secure climate where children are prized and nurtured toward success” (Brimely, Verstegen, & Garfield, 2016, p.167).  California has made tremendous strides in funding education through the LCFF; I believe that schools are still underfunded and would love to see more taxes directed at education to support the children.

Hartzell v. Connell (1984)


Description of Court Case

In 1980 the Santa Barbara School District imposed a $25 activity fee for students who participated in afterschool programs such as choir, sports, and drama.  The fee was imposed by the board of education to offset a 1.1 million dollar budget cut that was imposed on the schools.  The board weighed two options to offset the budget cuts.  Option one was to reduce the 22 extra-curricular programs in the district to only 8 and continue funding them as before.  Option two which was the one selected by the board was to continue funding all 22 activities but impose a $25 activity fee for each program a student is involved in.  All 22 of the extra-curricular programs were tied to a class in which students gain credits toward graduation; the schools receive funding for school day attendance, are on school grounds, and are supervised by school faculty (FindLaw, n.d.).


Barbara Hartzell, a parent of two along with the Coalition Opposing Student Fees brought the suit against Santa Barbara School District to challenge the activity fee based on article IX, section 5, of the California Constitution.  “A pupil enrolled in a school shall not be required to pay any fee, deposit, or another charge not specifically authorized by law” (FindLaw, n.d., p.3). The Supreme Court of California ruled that the activity fee violated the guarantee of free education.  In the court’s discussion, it noted that the extra-curricular activities broaden the experience and horizon of the students.  The court also noted that the fees might serve a purpose to help schools face economic issues but are not permissible under state law (FindLaw, n.d.).


Relevance to Education

The Hartzell v. Connell (1984) case served as a major milestone in California education to help ensure that families have equal access to extra-curricular programs.  The case helped eliminate the injustices between the haves and the have-nots in public education (Collins, 2011).  The courts helped to remove the financial barriers for students and families to participate in school programs that helped to enrich their education.  The burden of the costs of these programs falls on each school district.  Since the 1984 decision the American Civil Liberties Union has worked to find injustices associated with student fees in the public education system.  In 2005 the ACLU cited the Hartzell case when the Fullerton School District was charging families $1,500 to participate in a laptop program (Perez, 2005).


California schools have had to shift how they seek monetary contributions from parents.  Schools can ask for donations to programs to help offset costs but are not able to make them mandatory.  As a prior water polo and swimming coach, I would fundraise for the program by asking parents to donate funds to a swim-a-thon.  The donations were not mandatory, and not every family was able to donate to the program.  The donations helped to purchase much-needed equipment for the athletes.  As a coach, I do not like the concept of pay to play athletics.  In pay to play athletics, some parents think that would entitle their child to equal playing time based on their monetary contribution (Collins, 2011).

Equity and Adequacy

“Equity is more than non-discrimination.  It is a proactive stance that insists all students and employees receive the support and resources needed to succeed and that equal treatment is a non-negotiable and true priority (Darden, 2013, p. 69).  The Hartzell decision helped to make access to extra-curricular programs equitable for all students in California.  The case of each program being adequate is a new focus for education.  “Adequacy focuses on the sufficiency of funding to support schooling that provides students with an equal opportunity (Brimley, Verstegen & Garfield, 2013, p.96).  Lack of taxpayer funding for public education was the driver in the Santa Barbara school board’s decision-making process to impose the $25 activity fee.  As school districts continue to face insufficient funding in education taxpayers must ensure that equitable and adequate funding is in place to best serve the students (Brimley, Verstegen & Garfield, 2013).


Brimley, V., Jr., Verstegen, D. A., & Garfield, R. R. (2016). Financing education in a climate of change (12th ed.). United States of America: Pearson Education, Inc.

Collins, R. (2011). Pay-to-play programs. District Administration47(7), 78–78. Retrieved from

Darden, E. C. (2013). Equity requires purposeful action. Phi Delta Kappan94(5), 68–69. Retrieved from

FindLaw’s California court of appeal case and opinions. (n.d.). Retrieved August 29, 2018, from

Perez, E. (2005). O.C. school district reaches out to ACLU. Orange County Register, The (Santa Ana, CA).

The Hidden Curriculum

The Hidden Curriculum

Today all of the Deans in the district got together for our monthly professional development.  Our Director of Secondary Education presented the third part of his series on the topic of curriculum.  The first session was on the explicit curriculum that most teachers focus on which is the academic side of teaching.  The second session was on the social-emotional curriculum that needs to be addressed and is so often overlooked.  Today’s session was on the hidden curriculum that we all teach students and even to each other.  Today I want to focus the hidden curriculum.


The hidden curriculum refers to the unwritten, unofficial, and often unintended lessons, values, and perspectives that students learn in school.  The hidden curriculum concept is based on the recognition that students absorb lessons in school that may or may not be part of the formal course of study.  Teachers teach the hidden curriculum unknowingly.  Our body language, attitude, and how we treat our students is what I mean by the hidden curriculum.  We give of signs and signals that tell the students that we care or that we do not care.  We watched this amazing Ted Talk video by Rita Pierson called Every Child Needs A Champion.  Watch it below.  In the video, Rita talks about being intentional in the way we talk with students.  She talks about the importance of relationships and positive self-talk.  An example of positive self-talk is saying out loud “I am somebody, I will be great, I can change the world.”

After watching the video I was asked to do two quick writes.

The first question was: What can I do now in my current position to consistently address the current elements identified in our critical conversation?

My response was: “I would address the social and emotional needs of students.  Attention seeking behavior can be both negative and positive.  I need to take the time to have meaningful conversations with students.  Don’t focus on the negative behaviors, look for and highlight the positive attributes of the students.  Help the kid know that they can accomplish things.  Be an advocate for the students and empower them to be amazing.”

The second question was: As I imagine myself as a future administrator, what will I intentionally, explicitly, and consistently incorporate into my professional practice?

My response was: “I feel that creating, building, and maintaining relationships with students and staff are essential.  I will focus on the positive things that each is doing and have an open ear to listen to their needs.  I feel that if I want to change anyone’s behavior I cannot do that without first praising them with many positive things that they are doing.  Once I have given them positive praise I can be critical of one or two things and they will be more likely to work on those areas.  My key take away is to focus on the positive to build relationships.


Another great video we were shown addresses emotional healing. As educators, we need to do a better job of addressing the social and emotional needs of our students.  Check this video out about Why we need to do that.



This year we have really changed the way we recognize positive student behavior.  The past two years teachers would nominate student using a Google Doc and the student would receive a paper certificate.  The teachers were asked by a staff member once a month to recognize students and little was done to encourage the student to change their behavior.  This past year we worked with our technology department and added positive behaviors to the student’s discipline record along with an email sent home to staff.  As the roll out of this system took place we noticed a shift in student behavior.  One of our first year teachers told me this year that she uses positive behavior recognition as a classroom management tool to help curb negative behavior.  She said the automatic parent emails are helpful.  There has been a CHARACTER COUNTS! Leader at the school who has always been in charge of the program so I decided I would ask her to reach out to the community to see if we could get some free donations and she returned with 300 free Raising Canes Combo’s.  In December we advertised on social media and school announcements that each day 10 students and 1 teacher would win a free lunch combo from Raising Canes and we saw our daily nominations go from less than ten to upwards of 500.  The hype was built and students were going to teachers asking what they had to do in their class to get a positive recognition so they could be entered in the drawing.

cc r word

Other student groups have worked collaboratively to create week-long activities to encourage positive behavior.  Our teen connection group that works with students with special needs wanted to host a stamp out the R word campaign (the r word is retard).  The group linked up with ASB and another group on campus called Ideas club to create daily activities to do at lunch.  They came up ideas that would mimic a student with a disability like reading words back-words, tying shoe laces with gloves on, and walking around cones with a blindfold on.  Each student was given a wristband for participating and a positive behavior recognition.  T-shirts were made and students were able to take the pledge to stamp out the R-word at the end of the week.  I sent emails daily to teachers letting them know about the activities and encouraged them to recognize students in their classroom for participating in the campaign.

puth cc

Sometimes things just fall in your lap and you need to take advantage of the situation.  One of our students won a free Charlie Puth concert from AMP radio.  They wanted us to allow students near the stage so we took advantage of this opportunity told students that there was a VIP pit experience.  If they were nominated for CHARACTER COUNTS! During the week prior to the concert they could win a VIP wristband for them and a friend.  There would also be a handful of winners to win a meet and greet experience.  We saw over a 1,000 nominations in one day when we announced this prize.  Taking advantage of opportunities and creating something great is amazing.  Check out Charlie Puth at Warren High School this year.

Below is a video of Charlie Puth at our school and an interview with him about high school.

Here is a video a student recorded and placed on Youtube.

Focus on the Positive

focus on the positive

As a student, I always remember the list of rules that each teacher posted in class.  Do not chew gum.  Do not talk.  Do not be late.  Do not, do not, do not.  They were always telling us what we can not do.  My first memory of negative behavior support was the colored card system in elementary school.  We all started on a green, and if we got into trouble, we had to pull a card to a different color.  If we had to pull too many cards, we were sent to the principal.  Far too many times I had to pull my card.  I remember in 5th grade one student had to sit by himself in the back of class the entire year because he had some behavior concerns and the teacher did not want him sitting near others.  In high school teachers were always paying attention to the student that was late or talking and calling them out for their behavior.  The one thing I do not remember is a teacher focusing on the positive behavior and calling others out for doing the right thing in class.

do not

Think for a minute how great it is to be told you are doing a great job.  When was the last time your boss came to you and said great job, thank you for completing that assignment with fidelity?  Think back to the last time you were told a good job and ask yourself how did it make you feel?  Probably a good feeling.   That day you were probably more productive, and it lasted days if not weeks.  If you co-workers saw the acknowledgment, you were given, they probably wanted to receive it too.  That is the idea behind focusing on the positive.  When a student walks into class on time and sits down, they should say a good job.  When a group of kids is talking in the back of the class, the teacher should take a minute and thank the students in the front of the class for being on task and paying attention.  The idea is that the others in the class will not stop and focus on the negative behaviors being reinforced with attention but rather the positive behaviors being reinforced.


I love the idea of Positive Intervention Behavior Support or PBIS and how it is getting whole systems in education to change and move in the right direction.  If we can change the focus of our attention as educators towards the students that are doing the right thing, something will happen, you will see more students doing the right thing.  People, especially young minds want attention and want to be told they are doing great things.  This is why I love our positive behavior system with CHARACTER COUNTS!  We are spending more time in our school focusing on the positive behavior that we are on the negative behavior.  Our teachers have recognized almost 80% of our 3,700 student population at least once this year.  There have been over 8,000 positive recognition that is put on a students record, and their parent receives a positive message via email.  We have set a school goal of 10,000 recognition and 100% of students recognized.  I truly believe we will meet this goal.  I have many ideas in the works to build momentum and change the dynamics of my job as Dean of students for next year.  Instead of being the name on the other end of the phone that parents fear calling about a suspension, cheating, truancy, etc.  I want to be the name that parents look forward to hearing from.  How can I make this happen?  How can I change my job as Dean of students?  Stay tuned.

Character Counts

This past year at work we implemented a new way of recognizing students for positive behavior using our Q system.  In Q we already had a way to negative input referral for inappropriate student behavior, so a group of us got together and asked the question, can we do the same for positive behavior?  We talked to our IT department, and they said, Yes! We decided it would be best to use the pillars of CHARACTER COUNTS! Since the program is already a board-adopted goal.  The next step was to make sure it was as easy as taking roll for a teacher.  We all know that a teacher does not want another program or thing added to their already full plate.  The final thing we asked for from IT was to notify parents of the positive recognition. And… Presto! The IT department came through and gave us everything we asked. Here is the email template that is sent home to parents after each nomination.CC email

As the Dean of students at a large high school, I am always dealing with inappropriate school behavior. When I give out consequences, I have to input them into a student behavior log.  Now with the role out of our positive behavior referrals, I can see the positive behavior right alongside the negative behavior in a student’s profile.  The cool thing is that this al used to be negative only.  My conversations have changed.  I can see a kid with something negative and as I look into their behavior profile and can see they got a positive referral in a different class and it provides an opportunity to talk to a student about what they are doing right in the class they are being recognized in and how they can apply that to the class that they are getting in trouble in.  Below is how a teacher makes a nomination.exmple_LI

This is the first school year that we have implemented our new program, and it has been a huge success.  We introduced it at a staff meeting and asked each teacher to bring their device to practice.  The first day we had over 300 student nominations.  As the year has progressed, we have reached out to the community and have been given student incentives like free food combos.  When we add these type of incentives to students, and even to the teachers we have seen the nominations grow.  In December we ran a program where each day ten nominated students won a free meal to Raising Canes, and we saw over 1,500 nominations that month.  In January a student won a free Charlie Puth concert for the school from Amp radio, so we made up a front-row VIP pit pass and in 3 days saw over 1,200 student nominations from teachers.  We learned that when we add incentives and advertise these through teacher emails and student announcements that more positive behavior is recognized. Below is an example of a students behavior screen.behavior_LI

Now we are approaching the last two months of school, and we are at over 8,000 positive referrals for the year.   I have set a goal of reaching 10,000 positive referrals this year.  Our school has become the model school for the district in positive student recognition, and we want to hit a huge number.  I have sent out Canva presentations to the staff, video announcements, and even presented to the board of education.  I wanted to do something different that was eye-catching and really like those videos that are infographics that are time lapsed drawings.  I Googled video infographics and found a site called Animaker.  I was able to use a template on Animaker and make a pretty cool video presentation about the Character Counts program at work. Animaker exported my video to Youtube.   Check it out.

I’m a blogger

Cheers to writing a blog… I want to focus my writing on PBIS (Positive Behavior Intervention Supports)

To me, this means having teachers and administrators focus on the positive behaviors of students at the school.  When a student walks in and sits down in class every day, has their pencil and book out and is ready to learn they can often be ignored by the teacher because she is too busy yelling at the kid who is out of their seat or late to class.  The teacher’s attention has been focused on the negative behaviors of the students.  I think the culture of a class can shift if the teachers start to focus on all the things that students are doing right.  If a teacher says thanks for being in your seat Johnny rather than why are you late Johnny makes a difference.  When this behavior spreads the focus of a school and of the teacher is positive.  Positivity spreads and other students want to be recognized for good rather than seen for the mistakes.


Stay Positive my friends… more to come later.