Paying more for public education to get less
A standard talking point of both teachers’ unions and public school bureaucrats is that education is woefully underfunded, and so more money is needed right away to avoid losing a generation of students.
That’s a bunch of self-serving nonsense, Nick Gillespie writes:
…when I hear the phrase the underfunding of schools, my head explodes. Not because I dislike kids or public schools; my two sons exclusively attended public schools. What gets my goat is the demonstrably false idea that schools are being starved for resources. Tax revenue per student in public K-12 schools is up 24 percent nationally over the past two decades, and that takes inflation into account.
In New York, where I live, real per-pupil revenue has increased by a mind-boggling 68 percent between 2002 and 2019. Public schools in the Empire State are now shelling out more than $30,000 per kid. That’s more than double the national average, and it doesn’t even include the $16 billion extra that New York’s system got in combined federal and state COVID-19 relief funding.
Yet New York’s public schools are still as terrible as the Mets, the Jets, and the Giants, with only a third or fewer of students up to grade level in eighth grade reading and math, according to their scores on the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP), widely considered the gold standard for judging school outcomes. Those scores aren’t much different than they were 20 years ago.
In fact, $30,000 a year puts the lie to the argument pushed by unions and progressives that more money will fix schools. More money hasn’t helped the rest of the country boost their scores either. According to NAEP, whatever minor improvements in reading and math that were made for students ages 9 and 13 since the early 1970s have flattened since the early 2000s. We’re paying more for the same results.
Which means kids are steadily losing ground. That should be infuriating to everyone who has a school-aged kid, or pays taxes to support public education. The results are bad, the costs are rising…no wonder more parents are considering alternatives to the neighborhood school.