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Old 08-08-2019, 01:03 PM
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Non-USA Dopers: How do you pay for your public schools.


Gross simplification: In the U.S., property taxes paid to the city or town are used to fund the public schools in that city or town.

My daughter just asked me if the same system is used in other countries, and I had to say I had no idea.

So illuminate us.
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Old 08-08-2019, 01:20 PM
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Same, we pay property tax which includes roads, schools, fire services etc. Whether you have kids or not you pay. Since you’re paying based on the house value, bigger house, bigger contribution.

But in Canada, they don’t spend more in rich districts than poor. It’s all pooled, then split, one set amount per student, regardless of district/tax base. High schools don’t have NFL quality stadiums and professional coaches etc, of course. On the other hand, everybody gets the same good quality education. (Obviously not a perfect system, First Nations children often still fall behind in funding! we def still have work to do!)

So, I’d guess the big difference with America is: rich neighbourhoods get stadiums and marching bands, while poor districts have to share textbooks. Inequality caused by unequal funding. (But even as I’m typing it, I realize the equal spending model, would be a very difficult sell in America.)
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Old 08-08-2019, 01:40 PM
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Actually, there is some amount of redistribution, at least in some states (including the one I live in). Even with it, though, poor towns still have less money than rich towns.
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Old 08-08-2019, 01:41 PM
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In Australia, public schools are run and financed by the states, out of general revenue. They get some special purpose grants from the federal government, and they get some general financial grants from the feds out of income tax and the GST (a form of VAT).

(The states could legally impose an income tax, but in practice have not since World War II. The states cannot impose a sales tax or VAT, since that kind of power is limited to the feds.)

There's also the Catholic schools and the non-Catholic private schools, whose income comes from school fees and from some special purpose grants from the feds.

So school finance is pretty uniform across each state, and fairly uniform between the states in Australia.

ETA: Property tax (called "rates") is the main source of local government finance, so is not used for education at all.

Last edited by Giles; 08-08-2019 at 01:42 PM.
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Old 08-08-2019, 01:50 PM
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FYI - In the UK the term "public school" means quite the opposite of what we think of in the US. In the UK they are what we in the US would call a "private school".

Public Schools UK
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Old 08-08-2019, 01:53 PM
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Germany, schools are cooperatively run by the municipiality (physical plant) and the federal state (teachers, syllabus). Costs come out of the municipial and state budget. These budgets are mostly financed out of income tax (there is one federal income tax; states and municipialities get a proportion of their residents‘ income tax). There is a municipial property tax but it is not a significant source of revenue - in the low three digits per year per property, usually.

Rich and poor areas in a state or within a city do not differ in the quality of schooling that they provide. That does not mean that schools in more affluent areas are not sought after by parents, but the advantage is not that that the school in an affluent catchment area has more money to spend but that it has fewer students from deprived backgrounds.

Last edited by Mops; 08-08-2019 at 01:55 PM.
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Old 08-08-2019, 02:03 PM
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Gross simplification: In the U.S., property taxes paid to the city or town are used to fund the public schools in that city or town.
That's totally dependent on your state; here in Texas, we have "independent" school districts which answer only to Austin, not to the local municipality or county, and they have their own taxation authority for school related stuff, and their own separately elected boards.

Where it gets strange around here is that the districts vary wildly in their property tax bases and therefore in their ability to earn money through taxation, so that you end up with the situation where districts in poorer areas have very high tax rates and small revenues, while richer areas have lower rates and more revenues.

The Legislature has tried to fix the problem, and just fucked things up worse overall for the past 30 years or so. Now few districts at all have any money to do anything- they basically leveled the field by making everything shitty.
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Old 08-08-2019, 02:35 PM
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British state schools are given their funding by local governments (the local education authority, or LEA), and that money comes partly from central government, and partly from council tax, which is a tax paid per household, either tenants or owner-occupiers. But that council tax pays for all sorts of things - there's no one tax that goes directly to school funding, and council tax isn't the sole source of funding either, so I don't think there's a big difference between funding in different areas.
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Old 08-08-2019, 03:48 PM
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South African schools are funded by the central government purse (taxes) with supplement amounts paid by parents. There's no local tax component. Schools in less affluent areas receive a bigger per-student grant, but obviously parents pay in a lot less per child so affluent area schools still come out way ahead on funding.

Last edited by MrDibble; 08-08-2019 at 03:49 PM.
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Old 08-08-2019, 04:01 PM
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So, Id guess the big difference with America is: rich neighbourhoods get stadiums and marching bands, while poor districts have to share textbooks. Inequality caused by unequal funding. (But even as Im typing it, I realize the equal spending model, would be a very difficult sell in America.)
No, it depends on the state.
Here in Minnesota, we created such a school spending system 50 years ago, and it works pretty well generally.

There are special added funding for districts that have a lot of poor children (based on free lunches), special-ed kids, and non-English speakers, but Republicans keep trying to cut these. Also, since the tax money is collected by the state, when they are running at a deficit, they hold back paying out that money to the school districts for months or years -- that covers up the state deficit, but makes a real cash flow problem for the school districts; many have to go out and borrow money to keep afloat.

But there are still inequities between rich & poor school districts.
Rich districts can charge hefty 'fees' to students to participate in sports or arts activities, which poor district kids couldn't afford. (And rich districts will have 'scholarship' funds taking donations to pay those fees for poor students who are good athletes.) Also, rich districts in general do well at various funding drives to support specific projects, where such wouldn't be very successful in poor districts.

Also, Districts can assess additional property taxes on their district, if they can get the voters to pass a special referendum authorizing this. It's often easier to pass those in rich districts than poor districts.
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Old 08-08-2019, 04:14 PM
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In the UK, state schools in affluent areas get a lot more support from parents. It's not just money, although their parents are more able and willing to pay for extra-curricular activities like music etc, and even to pay for books and equipment; but also the input those parents have in the running of the school as parent governors. This makes those schools more attractive to teachers and while the poorer schools get few or no applicants for vacancies, the more wealthy are oversubscribed.

I suspect that this pattern is pretty similar the world over.

Last edited by bob++; 08-08-2019 at 04:15 PM.
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Old 08-08-2019, 05:44 PM
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In the UK, state schools in affluent areas get a lot more support from parents. It's not just money, although their parents are more able and willing to pay for extra-curricular activities like music etc, and even to pay for books and equipment; but also the input those parents have in the running of the school as parent governors. This makes those schools more attractive to teachers and while the poorer schools get few or no applicants for vacancies, the more wealthy are oversubscribed.

I suspect that this pattern is pretty similar the world over.
Yeah, suspect that's unavoidable.

I've only ever taught in very underprivileged schools in London, and I think there is some off-set to this in a way, because there are various initiatives to try to keep kids out of gangs, etc, and there's access to extra funding if you have a certain number of students under a certain income threshhold. Lots of afterschool and breakfast clubs, groups coming in to do music and drama courses, etc.

All that has decreased significantly over the last few years, for obvious reasons, but I'm not going to go on about that because it's too political for GQ. But for a really long time, bright students at inner city schools often had better facilities than kids in more average areas. So it's relevant in that the schools had access to national government funds for those activities.
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Old 08-08-2019, 06:17 PM
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Same, we [Canadians] pay property tax which includes roads, schools, fire services etc. Whether you have kids or not you pay. Since you’re paying based on the house value, bigger house, bigger contribution.
Don't forget that in some places you can elect to have your property taxes fund either the secular or Catholic school board and/or either the English or French school board.

Last edited by hogarth; 08-08-2019 at 06:18 PM.
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Old 08-08-2019, 06:59 PM
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Same, we pay property tax which includes roads, schools, fire services etc. Whether you have kids or not you pay. Since youre paying based on the house value, bigger house, bigger contribution.

But in Canada, they dont spend more in rich districts than poor. Its all pooled, then split, one set amount per student, regardless of district/tax base. High schools dont have NFL quality stadiums and professional coaches etc, of course. On the other hand, everybody gets the same good quality education. (Obviously not a perfect system, First Nations children often still fall behind in funding! we def still have work to do!)

So, Id guess the big difference with America is: rich neighbourhoods get stadiums and marching bands, while poor districts have to share textbooks. Inequality caused by unequal funding. (But even as Im typing it, I realize the equal spending model, would be a very difficult sell in America.)
I'm not entirely sure what you're saying here- are you saying that in Canada, the property tax is sent to the national government which then sends a specified amount per student to the district/school and if that's how it works, why are the First Nations children falling behind in funding?
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Old 08-08-2019, 07:49 PM
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Not federally, but by province. First Nations fall behind in part because we have a serious history of evil in the name of education, and have taken hands off, leaving them to sink or swim as it were. Some communities are thriving, others struggling to find the right balance. Others are failing. They quite rightly don’t much give a shit what we think ‘ought to be done/is the right course’. They’ve suffered a lot of evil in the name of good intentions, and cannot possibly fuck it up as badly as our country historically has, so more power to them. They WILL find their way, without us.

Last edited by elbows; 08-08-2019 at 07:50 PM.
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Old 08-08-2019, 07:53 PM
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Ireland: school funding comes from the national government, not local governments, and is financed out of the general budget. There are no taxes particularly hypothecated to school funding.

Australia: state-operated schools are funded by the state government, out of the general budget. State aid to voluntary schools (mostly, but not all, church-affiliated) comes mostly from the federal government, but partly from the state government. In both cases it is funded out of the general budget of the government concerned. There are no taxes particularly earmarked for education funding.
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Old 08-08-2019, 08:00 PM
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I'm not entirely sure what you're saying here- are you saying that in Canada, the property tax is sent to the national government which then sends a specified amount per student to the district/school and if that's how it works, why are the First Nations children falling behind in funding?

Education is an area of provincial/territorial jurisdiction, so there are 13 different taxation and funding systems.

Historically, education was funded in all provinces by local property taxes. However, that leads to inequities in funding, between poor areas and rich areas.

Increasingly, the trend in all provinces is to keep using local taxes as a revenue source, but pool the taxes into a provincial fund which then pays grants to the schools across the province, on the basis that each student should get an equal amount invested in their education, regardless where they live.

Education of First Nations people is an exception to provincial jurisdiction. The federal government has asserted jurisdiction over education in First Nations communities. The results have not been good.
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Old 08-08-2019, 11:40 PM
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In Spain it comes out of the general taxes budget, there's no specific earmarked tax. The most visible ones are IRPF (income tax) and IVA (sales tax); Seguridad Social covers the social safety networks (UHC, unemployment services, pensions). Pretty much anything else is called a "special tax" but this includes things such as taxes on fuel, which make up over 90% of its price at point of sale. Special taxes, IRPF and IVA all go to a single bag, Seguridad Social is separate.

Property taxes are defined as municipal; some towns have it set at zero, as they consider that the income they get from other sources is sufficient to cover the town's needs (they'd rather manage less types of tax); in some regions, towns have transferred the collection of municipal taxes to the national treasury (Hacienda) but Hacienda merely acts as a sort of subcontractor, the tax levels are still set by each town. There's very few municipal schools; the few which exist are pre-preschool services and even these often do not belong to a single township but to a mancomunidad, a group of townships which pool resources. Mancomunidades are also popular for the management of other municipal services such as providing drinking water, wastewater treatment and solid waste collection and treatment. I've seen similar groupings in France, both for similar services and for other items: I'm currently in a small town in Normandy where both the waste treatment and the sports facilities are intercommunal.

There's a long process of "transference" of stuff which used to be completely centralized to the regions: this includes, among others, healthcare and education. In general, the money still gets collected and distributed from Madrid; it's the day-to-day management that gets transferred. In the case of education, what's transferred is: salaries for personnel, other operational costs, part of the curriculum (regional curriculums must meet the requirements of the national curriculum), evaluation of semi-public schools (private property but following the public curriculum). The money comes from the general bag.

Last edited by Nava; 08-08-2019 at 11:41 PM.
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Old 08-09-2019, 12:37 AM
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British state schools are given their funding by local governments (the local education authority, or LEA), and that money comes partly from central government, and partly from council tax, which is a tax paid per household, either tenants or owner-occupiers.
.
That used to be the case, but since the 2010 coalition government, there has been a major push to encourage removing schools from local authority control to "academy" organisations funded by and reporting directly to the central government Department of Education. Or at least, that is so in England: since education is a devolved responsibility, different rules and policies may apply in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.

Plus, local government finance (again, subject to the caveat about devolution) has been tightly controlled by central government, to the point where something less than 40% is raised locally (and funding from central government has been cut to the bone)
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Old 08-09-2019, 10:00 AM
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Gross simplification: In the U.S., property taxes paid to the city or town are used to fund the public schools in that city or town.

My daughter just asked me if the same system is used in other countries, and I had to say I had no idea.

So illuminate us.

For the most part this is not true.
Overall public schools receive 8% of their funding through the federal government, 47% through state funding, and 45% through local funding.
Each state is different but on average property taxes are about 33% of education funding.
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Old 08-09-2019, 10:01 AM
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In Washington State, the state only funds basic education. Anything else is funded through levies voted on by the residents of each school district. These levies cover the building of new schools, maintenance of existing schools and basic operating funding. I just received my 2019 property tax assessment, about 14% of my taxes are from these levies. These levies create issues for districts in poorer areas or rural areas with small populations. Levies tend to fail in these areas meaning the education received this this state can vary widely from excellent to very basic, depending on where you live.
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Old 08-09-2019, 10:22 AM
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Just to point out - also at least in some Canadian provinces, the schools are funded approximately half by property taxes and half by provincial revenue. This gives some provinces a modicum of control over school board budgets. School boards tend to be roughly aligned with city/county boundaries and are elected usually at the same time as city councils. (In some provinces) Property taxes are collected by the municipality and it galls them that the school board can raise its rate and the bill appears to be the fault of the city council - which in fact has zero control over the school board and its tax rates. And those who rent tend to have no idea about property taxes. But in this model, there is still contention about where some areas are high in industrial/commercial land use, meaning plenty of taxes with no extra students, while "bedroom communities" have the opposite issue. Since many of Canadian municipalities have been subject to amalgamation to consolidate governance in recent decades another bone of contention is the eventual consolidation of school boards also. Toronto used to have 13 boroughs then 7 and now 1 government, and IIRC the school boards have been similarly amalgamated. (Since I have no kids, don't really follow this)

Should add that tax rates are set by the boards and don't need citizen referendum approval for changes. The rate just keep going up.

Native peoples, as pointed out, are the concern of the federal government. In many isolated reserves, the feds pay for the educational infrastructure. With a limited number of students, often high school is away from home - the feds pay the nearest provincial schoolboard a per-student rate to send children to their high school, although there are some native-run boarding schools in big cities, I think. Boarding schools run by government or churches have a bad reputation among natives thanks to much earlier efforts to force assimilation through dedicated boarding schools ("residential schools") and pretty much kidnapping children to force them to attend; and many were abusive to the students above and beyond forced English/cultural assimilation.

Last edited by md2000; 08-09-2019 at 10:27 AM.
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Old 08-09-2019, 11:45 AM
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That used to be the case, but since the 2010 coalition government, there has been a major push to encourage removing schools from local authority control to "academy" organisations funded by and reporting directly to the central government Department of Education. Or at least, that is so in England: since education is a devolved responsibility, different rules and policies may apply in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.

Plus, local government finance (again, subject to the caveat about devolution) has been tightly controlled by central government, to the point where something less than 40% is raised locally (and funding from central government has been cut to the bone)
Well, I did say that the local authority funding comes partly from central government.

I was being lazy not bothering to mention academies - I knew someone else would come in and bring them up. There aren't any academies at all in Scotland or Wales, by the way, they're just an English thing (that I very much dislike, and so does every teacher I know who's ever worked in one).
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Old 08-10-2019, 04:33 PM
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In Alberta, we tell the government whether we want to support English, French, secular or Catholic schools. Our tax dollars go to the appropriate schools.

One major difference, it seems, is that at least where I have lived we are allowed to send our kid to any school in the district. Our local school did not have a very good reputation, so we sent our kid to a high school across the city. The only penalty we paid is that if you don't send your kid to their 'assigned' school, you lose the transportation subsidy and have to figure out how to get your kid to school on your own.

If enough parents choose to send their kids out of their assigned zone, the school can actually be shut down for lack of students. I believe four of our inner-city schools have closed for that reason.

If the U.S. made that one simple reform, it would do wonders both for the school system and for poor children.
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Old 08-10-2019, 08:56 PM
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Here in Peru it comes out of the National and Regional general budget. No specific taxes.
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Old 08-10-2019, 10:40 PM
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In Australia, public schools are run and financed by the states, out of general revenue. They get some special purpose grants from the federal government

That was before Whitlam, Actually Whitlam changed the constitution (by referendum) to allow, and basically require, the fed gov to provide substantial yearly subsidy to private schools, on the basis they were getting credit for the costs they saved the public (state ) schools.

So in terms of actual yearly running costs, currently the feds aim to provide 20% of the $13k it costs for a state public school student, which means 80% must come from the states.


And for private schools, its 80% fed, 20% state divyying up of the costs, and the base subsidy is $11K to catholics (that may be a generalisation) and $9K to the rest.
I think the $11K is provided to schools which provide charitable schooling ( as in they provide schooling even if the family couldn't afford to pay the regular fee ), from memory that is the test for the higher amount, and so they label that category the Catholics as a practicality because only the catholics qualify. Not sure if that is state religion. Church of England prime ministers sometimes try to trick the parliament into changing away from having higher funding for the catholic school network and they get called out on the charitability test.
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Old 08-10-2019, 11:47 PM
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There aren't any academies at all in Scotland or Wales, by the way, they're just an English thing (that I very much dislike, and so does every teacher I know who's ever worked in one).
Me too (as a taxpaying, non-parent citizen). Touted originally as a means for local initiative to offer independent and innovative alternatives to "the dead hand of entrenched local bureaucracy", they very quickly became an opportunity for the same old secretive rip-off of public funds as other privatisations. And the undemocratic way the process of conversion was imposed was shameful.
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Old 08-11-2019, 12:13 AM
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Back to the original question, or at least general concepts of taxation: our Treasury has a general presumption against "hypothecated taxation" (=specific taxes ring-fenced to specific expenditures). Most politicians also prefer the greater control that gives decision-makers over both sides of the income/expenditure equation.

On the one hand, property is the easiest thing to tax, because it can't be magicked away by clever accounting; but on the other, it's not equally distributed across the whole community, so the taxation can't be fairly distributed if it's too locally controlled.
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Old 08-11-2019, 02:24 AM
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Both in Japan and Taiwan then it comes out of general revenue. Im not sure if the budget comes from the county in Taiwan or the province in Japan and how much comes from the national budget. I believe that most of it comes from the national budgets.

There are differences in levels of schools in the cities compared to rural areas, but the differences are much less than what is seen in America.
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Old 08-12-2019, 08:35 AM
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Thank you all for fighting ignorance — including my own about how the system here works.
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Old 08-12-2019, 08:58 AM
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Just to point out - also at least in some Canadian provinces, the schools are funded approximately half by property taxes and half by provincial revenue. This gives some provinces a modicum of control over school board budgets. ... But in this model, there is still contention about where some areas are high in industrial/commercial land use, meaning plenty of taxes with no extra students, while "bedroom communities" have the opposite issue.
This has been changing across the country. There are still local property taxes which fund education, but increasingly, all the education taxes from all municipalities go to a common fund, which is then distributed by the province on a similar "per-student" amount, so that you don't get that disparity depending on where the student lives and what the local economic conditions are. The provincial government then provides additional funding. Exactly how it works will vary, as we have ten provinces and thirteen territories, each with its own system, but the concern about disparity based on local tx bases has been addressed by each province, I believe.
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Old 08-12-2019, 08:06 PM
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Singapore - public schools are mostly funded from general taxes, with each student paying about $10-$30USD in school fees after subsidies. Almost all schools have their curriculum managed by the government, although some independent schools manage their own curriculum and therefore offer IB and other alternative certification. Otherwise, there is standardised testing for each student regardless of whether the school is a public or independent school.

Education makes up about 20% of the Singapore budget. If you like to play with data, here you go https://data.gov.sg/group/education
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Old 08-12-2019, 08:23 PM
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That was before Whitlam, Actually Whitlam changed the constitution (by referendum) to allow, and basically require, the fed gov to provide substantial yearly subsidy to private schools, on the basis they were getting credit for the costs they saved the public (state ) schools.
There were no amendments made to the Australian constitution at all, on any subject, during Whitlam's term of office. There have been no amendments at any time dealing with school funding.

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. . . Not sure if that is state religion.
There is no state religion in Australia. That is dealt with in the Constitution; the esablishment of religion is prohibited by section 116.
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Old 08-12-2019, 10:59 PM
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In Norway schools for grade 1-10 are adminstered by the municipalities, schools for grade 11-13 are administered by the county.

Most of the funds are part of the taxes distributed by the central government, but the municipalities and counties set their own budget.

Municipalities can impose property taxes, but those are a minor part of Norwegian tax revenue compared to income tax, value added tax and wealth tax collected by the central tax authority.
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