What Profiteth a Community
It may be that the education discussion needs a broader context, because there’s a substantial way in which Thomas’s argument is beside the point:
As to the point I was actually raising, yes, it matters what pocket the money comes from. Andrew’s comment raises exactly this issue. My view is that basing education funding on property taxes makes the amount of funding available depend on the property values in the community. I don’t think the funding for my child’s education (or yours) should depend so much on which town their parents live in. If that means that our wealthier communities subsidize our less wealthy communities, I don’t have a problem with that. (And yes, I do live in Providence).
As for what those other communities would “get back in return”, I’d like to suggest that a well-educated work-force in Providence, Woonsockett, etc. would benefit the entire state. RI is much too small to think parochially about this. The future of our cities is the future of the state.
What good is our investment in schools when the business and government structure is such that educated young folks looking for opportunities have to go elsewhere? It profits us much less if our education funding translates merely into fewer people receiving public assistance, because fewer and fewer people are paying the bills.
Frankly, my priorities are ensuring that I can keep my own children out of poverty, managing to keep my home, and making it at least possible that my children, when educated, won’t have to go great distances in order to make a living some day. I know it’s habitual in Rhode Island to think of public policy as a compulsive shopper with a new credit card thinks of the mall, but we need realistic budgeting before we figure out how to maximize the returns on our public investments.