Teacher pay is a small part of a giant puzzle of how to keep public schools running smoothly and effectively. Funding a school receives, however, can have an impact on a student’s experience.
This elementary school in Chesterfield, South Carolina knows all about it.
In the eyes of a kindergartener, school is just school, and they believe it's the same for everyone. However, their teacher, Natalie Melton, knows that's anything but true.
"It’s absolutely not fair,” she says. “All children deserve the same opportunity. All teachers deserve the same opportunity to use the same things to teach them.”
But the way schools get their funds is part of a system that’s been in place since the mid-1970s.
It’s a system superintendent Harrison Goodwin says needs to change.
“It’s never going to be equal, because the resources that children are born into are never gonna be equal,” Goodwin says. “What we have to find is some way to make up for the equity of it.”
Schools get their money from a mix of federal state and local sources, but nearly half their funds come from local property taxes. Chesterfield is a high-poverty, rural community. It's a problem faced by educators in states across the U.S.
“At this school, we're probably about 70 to 72 percent high poverty,” Goodwin says.
In South Carolina, he says there is a direct correlation between poverty and test scores.
It means schools feel the need to do more with less. If Melton could send one message to the nation’s politicians, it’s this.
“I would implore them to rethink some of the decisions they made to allocate things for education,” she says. “Every child deserves an opportunity to learn just like everyone else, no matter where you’re from, no matter where your parents are from or how much money your parents make. Any of that, all that, should be the same.”