HODE 3225: Introduction to the Public Finance of Education

Undergraduate course, Vanderbilt University, Peabody College, Department of Leadership Policy and Organizations, 2024

Course Description

This undergraduate-level course provides a foundation of knowledge for the economics of the public sector. Then the course examines economic models to explain real world government policymaking with a specific focus on education policy.

In this course, we first provide a foundation of knowledge for the economics of education. Then we will focus on the following six guiding questions:

  1. Should public funds be used to subsidize investments in education?
  2. To what extent do school leaders optimally allocate public funds?
  3. How do public schools receive their funding?
  4. Does money matter for educational outcomes?
  5. What are the economic arguments for school choice?
  6. What is the impact of teacher pay policies on teacher labor markets?

Learning Objectives

  1. Engage in discussions about current events related to the public financing of education
  2. Understand economists’ perspectives on education policy and public finance
  3. Connect economic models, theories, and ideas with frameworks from other disciplines
  4. Be a critical consumer of education research

Skills and Knowledge

  1. Understand how education markets differ from competitive markets
  2. Explain and compute present discounted value when examining investment decisions in education
  3. Use budget constraints to model resource allocation decisions
  4. Illustrate and explain cost minimization using isoquants and budget constraints
  5. Illustrate and explain utility maximization using indifference curves and budget constraints
  6. Explain how local, state, and federal funding impact education finance
  7. Illustrate and explain parental decision making in the presence of school choice
  8. Describe the impact of a salary schedule on the teacher labor market

Download the syllabus.