skyrocketing tuition costs at the highest levels of education and unfundable needs at even the lowest, sound financial policy is an integral key to the success of the American education system. In a system where public education is the bedrock of society, it is the responsibility of the public to maintain a viable financial policy. While citizens give regularly to the schools in their districts through taxes, enrollment, and requisite civic engagement, the businesses to which they matriculate and from which they find economic support are not free of responsibility. Instead, they are tethered to the concerns of America's youth; it is from the children of today that they will see profitability in the international market tomorrow. As financial problems come to define the ability of educational institutions to provide services, the access and ideology of foundational support demands examination to meet the growing market needs.
Because the education system in the United States occurs under a highly decentralized banner with most curriculum decisions and funding matched at local levels through school boards, the financial woes of academia were readily apparently in the early half of the last century. Meeting at Columbia University in 1955, fifty heads of America's top corporations proclaimed it was their responsibility to help nurture the nation's future, their future employees, by taking on a financial burden of the education sphere. "Financial aid by business corporations to the colleges and universities is sound business policy," they agreed.
" It is an opportunity for them, as well as a responsibility. It is not a charity but an investment in their own future."
While the United States federal government remains a focal point of financial support through the arm of the U.S. Department of Education, it is unable to provide the overall financial support needed by the U.S. school systems. In addition to helping support America's public schools, it also provides institutional grants for non-profit private schools, an important part of the American school system. While the problem of funding educational programs that meet the needs of the American youth, financial woes have never been more present in the educational sphere than they are today.
The problem presented by funding is delicate and muddy, in many ways exacerbated by the current polarization of the national political culture and stretched by the No Child Left Behind Act. At its most basic, the Act gives the Department of Education the right to withhold money form a school, district, and state that are not meeting national expectations in Washington; while accountability is an important aspect of education, the act furthers the struggle of failing schools and districts where more funding is needed and targets the ideology of funding school systems at its most basic core, the provisions by which a school meets its financial needs.
At the college and university level, the problem of funding is a key concern as schools tally yearly tuitions the price of a middle-class annual pay stub. America's most elite universities, from private institutions like Harvard University to public schools like New York University, list educational prices over $40,000 per year. Since most students in these institutions cannot match the prices of their education in pay, they must seek alternate ways to approach their academic expenses. Public supported student loan funding exists in the split-branch of the Department of Education direct service, managed by the Federal Direct Student Loan Program (FDSLP), and from private institutions and commercial entities. These foundations are largely banks, credit unions, and financial service firms like Sallie Mae, supported and legalized under the Federal Family Education Loan Program (FFELP).
Federal financial aid programs are unable to meet the fiscal realities of students' needs. Facing either a sub-par education or financial neglect, both institutions and individuals are forced to find external support; foundations, the philanthropic outcrop of corporate success, have become a popular support for these needs. "Any estimate of the force and direction of the activities of the philanthropic foundations is inevitably conditioned by the appraiser's individual biases and predilections as to what is ultimately valuable in higher education," wrote Ernest Hollis on the influence of philanthropic foundations on higher education.
Many of the organizations that have provided for systematic financial needs of America's cultural excellences have also funded educational opportunities throughout the years. Andrew Carnegie, the early industrial tycoon, amassed millions and decided early on that those moneys earned by his corporate success should be wielded in a charitable way with responsibility, benefiting the basic needs of society. "Only in popular education can man erect the structure of an enduring civilization." His proclamation is carried in the mission of the Carnegie Corporation of New York, established in 1911 to promote "the advancement and diffusion of knowledge and understanding." Provided by the will of its benefactor, the grantmaking foundation focuses much of its financial support on education, providing assistance to struggling academics as well as the institutions in which they learn. While Sallie Mae and ACT loans add to the foundational support for students at the university level, many philanthropic foundations like that of the Rockefeller, Gates, and Mellon foundations support the Carnegie Corporation's lead to extend funding from just the highest levels of education, where the exorbitant tallies blatantly demand external funding, but also to normal education and K-12 fiscal needs, where additional grants may help train for upwardly mobile employment opportunities, terminal degrees in vocational skills, and basic literacy needs.
Foundational support in the secondary school level is most evidenced in urban areas like New York City, where Schools for a New Society and New Century High Schools are funded almost entirely by foundational support. Leaders in the education industry have been long weary of these supports, however, recognizing that with private money comes a wealth of expectations that may or may not be compatible with the ultimate mission of providing every student with the same, basic education. "Far-reaching reforms were embedded in the earliest grants by foundations to colleges. It was so skillfully done, however, that few of the grants are directly traceable to the reforms they sought."
No Child Left Behind brought these concerns carefully under scrutiny in the public sphere, where the federal arm of educational funding rallied around foundational support of schools. By 2000, the proximity of business associations, corporate foundations, and non-profits was already of concern in the American educational field, but its cement by the Act proffered a new kind of support for American schools. Critics wonder, however, if the leverage wielded by foundations with corporate ties could ensue a new sort of vocational system, where charter schools funded by groups with profit-centered expectations might in-turn make a new sort of funneling out of training specific schools with direct-to-work post graduate initiatives.
Despite concerns raised by the proximity of corporate foundations to the education system, the financial support provided by charitable arms is invaluable to the fiscal realities of academia today. The support provided by No Child Left Behind to tying corporate finances to charter schools, magnet programs, and vocational skills is suspect, but the wealth of charitable services provided by foundational support demands appreciation. At the primary, secondary, and post-secondary levels, institutions like the IBM foundation support not only schools but smaller associations that seek to provide financial assistance for gifted children in schools where their educational opportunities are clearly limited.
Prep for Prep, a national foundation that seeks to provide financial help for exceptional students with academic access previously ignored, takes children of minority backgrounds performing well in their home schools and provides a bridge between the child and a private school, helping with admissions, enrollment, and providing full financial support for the child in the new academic environment. Yearly, it sends more than thirty students from middle schools in the Bronx and establishes them with financial support in educational…