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Satire (and the Sad Truth) About Education Funding with The Onion


The Onion is arguably the funniest satire site on the web, taking stabs at all aspects of culture and current events, from politics to sports to technology. As its sardonic articles, videos, and infographics make the rounds on social media, one of its posts occasionally touches on a subject dear to the heart of Missouri Parent: public schools.

On September 12th, The Onion published a story called “Tips For Fixing The Nation’s Education System”. The post offered a dozen or so suggestions for “fixing” education in America.

Some of the suggestions were funny:

“Discourage teacher turnover by downplaying the importance of having money and respect.”

Others were absurd:

“Tattoo grades on foreheads to shame low performers.”

But one of The Onion’s satirical recommendations hit especially close to home:

“Whatever you do, don’t change anything about a property-tax-based funding system in which rich schools get richer while poor schools get poorer. That’s working just fine.”

Missouri Parent strongly advocates for full funding for the Missouri Foundation Formula precisely for the reason The Onion articulated: our state’s poorest students shouldn’t be punished with a lower-quality public education than their wealthier peers receive.

Learn more about the Missouri Foundation Formula

The Foundation Formula was passed into law in 2005 to create a level playing field for elementary and secondary education students in Missouri, no matter how rich or poor their local communities are.

When a community is able to generate substantial revenue from local property taxes, its schools need less support from the state of Missouri. When communities aren’t able to generate as much local tax funding for schools, the Foundation Formula helps those schools to provide an “adequate” level of per-pupil funding.

The goal is to make sure that students statewide—regardless of how wealthy their communities are—receive a fair shot at a good education. The problem is that the Foundation Formula has never been fully funded.

“Whatever you do, don’t change anything about a property-tax based-funding system…”

If the Missouri Foundation Formula was working ideally, property-tax-based funding for local schools would be fine. Unfortunately, though, the Foundation Formula has been extremely underfunded from its beginnings.

The result: students who live in areas that have traditionally been less able to generate local property tax revenues (specifically our most urban and most rural students) continue to receive a less adequate education than students in districts with more local funding.

Full funding for the Missouri Foundation Formula is one of Missouri Parent’s core advocacy objectives and, while this article may contain humor, is a topic we are very serious about. To learn more about the Foundation Formula, and about how its underfunding continues to discriminate against rural and urban K-12 students in Missouri, follow Missouri Parent on Facebook and Twitter and bookmark the blog.

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