“SHOW ME THE MONEY!”
Perhaps one of the most memorable movie quotes from the 1990s, this line pretty much sums up the last and probably most obvious characteristic of a good school. Money. Financial resources are, in fact, key precursors to two of the other factors that I have already blogged about that make a school great, teachers and administrators, and there is likely a strong correlation between the other factor I have identified, involved parents. I have noticed that schools that have reputations for involved parents also seem to be able to raise more money for the school. Whether it comes from parents donation or a more wealthy (i.e., suburban) tax base, even if that money doesn’t go directly into teacher/administrator salaries, it certainly gives the school flexibility to spend their own budgets on salaries and use those external funds for other projects like renovating classrooms and playgrounds. Even if teacher administrator salaries are set by a higher authority (i.e., a school district), you would have to think that the teacher who has better equipment and facilities will do a better job in most cases.
It is also interesting to note that one of the top public elementary schools in Philadelphia is Penn Alexander, which receives $1330 per student per year from the University of Pennsylvania over and above the normal district allocations. In my last school success criteria blog post on the importance of strong administrators, I pointed out that some schools have thrived despite having a lot of turnover among their principals. I think that there is a strong argument to be made that money was the critical factor in the success of those schools as they weathered that.
My apologies for the obviousness of this post. I considered ignoring this point, but I felt that it would have been such a glaring omission to this series that I couldn’t do it. I hope the movie reference made it a slightly more enjoyable read.
Up next in the school success criteria discussion: Drawing Conclusions