Tuesday, October 22, 2002

The Lie About School Spending

It’s getting to be Election Eve, and the hot air is whooshing around from teachers’ unions and other pro-spenders that schools need more money, and they need it now.

But a big new study by the nation’s association of state legislators proves that there is no correlation between giving schools more money and improving student achievement.

Nebraska’s rankings published in the study prove that. The Cornhusker State was ranked 10th in a measure of academic achievement among states . . . and 32nd in per-pupil spending.

The data debunk the old claim that if you give the schools more money, the kids will get better educations. The states whose schools ranked near the top in academics were in the middle in terms of amount spent per pupil.

Because of the findings of its study, the American Legislative Exchange Council has joined the growing crowd of education advocates who are calling for a halt to the spending spree for K-12 education. They urge a return to the methods of schooling that will promote high student achievement, good discipline, and adequate accountability to parents and taxpayers.

“Report Card on American Education: A State-by-State Analysis 1976-2001” is available on http://www.ALEC.org

To demonstrate the folly of the proposed tax-lid override in the Omaha Public Schools, which would bring multimillions of new dollars into OPS coffers “for the kids,” I took a look at the top 10 states ranked by ALEC in terms of academic achievement and traced how they ranked in per-pupil expenditures.

If OPS is right, and more money creates smarter kids, then the top 10 in spending ought to be the top 10 in achievement.

But that’s not what the facts show.

Here are the top 10 states ranked academically based on SAT, ACT and National Assessment of Educational Progress math test scores, with their ranking for per-pupil expenditures:

State - academic rank & per-pupil spending rank

Wisconsin 1 & 11

Washington 2 & 20

Minnesota 3 & 14

Iowa 4 & 31

Montana 5 & 28

Kansas 6 & 23

New Hampshire 7 & 25

Massachusetts 8 & 5

Oregon 9 & 6

Nebraska 10 & 32

The average per-pupil spending rank for the top 10 academically was about 20th place.

One of the most telling statistics in the study was the ranking of the public schools in the District of Columbia. They ranked dead in academic achievement but eighth in per-pupil spending.

ALEC pointed out that, of the 10 states that increased per pupil expenditures the most over the past two decades (West Virginia, Kentucky, Connecticut, South Carolina, Maine, Hawaii, Tennessee, Vermont, Indiana, and Georgia), none ranked in the top ten in academic achievement.

One of the key reasons school districts ask for more money is to reduce the staff-to-child ratio, which the public believes will improve quality. But the ALEC study showed that of the 10 states that reduced class sizes the most over the past two decades (Maine, Alabama, Virginia, Hawaii, South Carolina, West Virginia, Wyoming, New York, Georgia and North Carolina) none ranked in the top ten in academic achievement.

So over the next couple of weeks, if OPS claims it needs more money to reduce class sizes and improve academic achievement, and that one follows another like night follows day, ask ‘em what planet that correlation comes from.

Answer: Planet Don’t Think, Just Give Us More Dough . . . “For the Kids.” :>)

Comments: Post a Comment