For the majority of . families, public education is the only option. But the quality of public school systems varies widely from state to state and is often a question of funding. Public elementary and secondary education dollars traditionally flow from three sources: the federal, state and local governments. According to EdCentral, states contribute nearly as much as local governments, while the federal government supplies the smallest share of the total. Some researchers have found that more resources — or taxes paid by residents — typically result in better school-system performance.