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...and Justice for All? Property Taxes and School Funding

N. Currier's 1846 painting 'The Destruction of Tea at Boston Harbor'

N. Currier's "The Destruction of Tea at Boston Harbor" (1846)

As the revolutionaries who dumped tea in Boston Harbor and recent candidates who promise 'no new taxes' have shown, taxes evoke passionate controversy in American life.  Within the context of the current New York State social studies curricula, there are few opportunities for the discussion of taxation policies.  While aid to education and government expenditures are mentioned in the economics curriculum, the taxes that pay for these programs are not.  To address these gaps, Professors Gerald Benjamin and Laura Dull at the State University of New York (SUNY) campus at New Paltz have met with several social studies teachers to develop a unit about the role of property taxes in funding public education. In this unit, high school students are introduced to the civic responsibility they will assume as adults, while also learning about how the property tax challenges the nation's founding principles of liberty and equality.