American schools are funded by a complex formula of national, state and local dollars and there are significant differences in the funding of the K-12 schools that students attend. If some schools are so ill equipped that children lack textbooks, trained teachers, and basic supplies, how can we say that these children have equal opportunities with their wealthier peers? How should K-12 education resources be distributed in a democracy?
This is a complex question because it involves difficult empirical issues [such as the efficacy of different resources] and disputed questions of values. While most Americans are committed to the ideal of equality of opportunity, there are very different understandings of what it means. Some people think it is simply a principle of non-discrimination. Others accept a much more demanding interpretation: opportunities are equal only when there are no differences in educational attainment between children because they are born into different families.
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