The pernicious myth of shrinking public school budgets

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Some Myths never die. The Biden administration has just finished another $ 100 billion proposed for the modernization of school buildings, in addition to the largely unspent $ 193 billion Stimulus fundsthat Congress last year already for K-12 education provided would have. Yet to repeat the major media still have the demonstrable wrong Claim that US public school budgets have been shrinking for decades.

Just last week claimed a columnist of the Philadelphia Inquirerthat “state lawmakers have slashed state funding for public schools in the last generation.”

This statement is not true. Data of the Pennsylvania Department of Education to confirmthat total public school funding per student, adjusted for inflation, has increased 48 percent since 2000 and 73 percent since 1990 gone up are. Data from the National Center for Education Statistics goes back even further, showing that those funds have increased 117 percent since 1980 and 201 percent since 1970. That’s right – Pennsylvania’s spending on education per student has tripled in real terms over the past half century.

The newest Data of the US Census Bureau show that Pennsylvania’s public schools received about $ 20,435 per student in 2018, which was about 38 percent higher than the national average at the time and about 76 percent higher than the current one average Keystone State private school fees. Current Data from the US Census Bureau demonstrate also that about 29 percent of the total Pennsylvania state budget goes to education.

These false claims were made

Worst of all is that of Inquirer was forced to make the same false claim less than a year and a half ago correct. In December 2019 claimed a reporter from the Inquirer that public education has seen “drastic cuts in funding over the past few decades.” When asked, the paper changed this false claim to one Others false claim: that public education has seen “drastic cuts in funding over the past decade”.

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Pennsylvania and national data proved both of these statements to be false. But instead of withdrawing the article or changing the reasoning when the facts were presented, the journalist stuck with the same account after finally making the demonstrably false claims about the funding cuts had corrected.

This myth is persistent and widespread. For example, after I put pressure on the editors for eight days in 2019, corrected the Washington Post one items by the Dean of the University of Virginia’s Curry School of Education, falsely claiming that “public funding for schools has actually declined since the late 1980s when adjusted for constant dollars.”

In the correction is it[called: “That was not the case. In fact, federal, state, and local funding has increased between the 1980s and 2019. “

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The same argument remains

Again, although this claim is central to the thesis of the Post piece the outlet kept the argument from the story – that we just need to throw more money on the problem – rather than withdrawing the item entirely. In fact, it says in the subheading to today that “the only thing we haven’t tried in the last 30 years is to invest enough in our schools,” even though the US inflation-adjusted spending per student has increased 39 percent since 1990 elevated to have.

Spreading this false narrative leads to us doing the same thing over and over again. Voters may be more willing to throw good money at the system, unsuccessfully, if they believe the lie that we have cut funding for public schools for decades.

In a nationwide representative surveyFor example, conducted by Education Next in 2020, respondents were asked how much the US spends per student on K-12 education. Perhaps due to the constant stream of misinformation in the mainstream media appreciated respondents said the US was spending only $ 8,140 per student per year, about 44 percent less than the real amount at the time. Same survey found that informing a randomly selected group of respondents about actual expenses reduced members’ chances of supporting more school expenses by approximately 24 percent.

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The reality is that unless there are real incentives to spend the money wisely, it is unlikely to fix the system simply by putting more money into the system. We’ve increased funding for public schools significantly for decades , without educational outcomes would have improved significantly. The newest Data the “Nation’s Report Card” show that in 2019 only 24 and 37 percent of US 12th graders good performance in math and reading – and only 15 percent of eighth graders dominated the 2018 US history. Stanford University economist Eric Hanushek also has nearly 400 studies on the subject evaluated and has concluded that “there is no strong or consistent relationship between student performance and school resources.”

The money doesn’t arrive

One problem is that additional funding for public schools often doesn’t make it to the classrooms. Ben Scafidi from Kennesaw State University found outthat the inflation-adjusted K-12 education expenditure per student rose by 27 percent in the US between 1992 and 2014 – but teacher salaries fell by 2 percent in real terms over the same period. At the same time rose in Pennsylvania, K-12 inflation-adjusted spending on education per student rose 38 percent, while teacher salaries in constant dollars fell 3 percent.

Dr. Scafidi found also outthat the number of full-time teachers in the US grew two and a half times as fast as the number of students between 1950 and 2015 – and that the number of administrators and other employees grew more than seven times as fast as the number of students over the same period . U.S. Department of Education data demonstrate also that the number of administrative staff increased more than ten times as fast as the number of students between 2000 and 2017.

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Allocating resources to administrative inflation and staffing is great for teacher unions because it gives them more political power in the form of numbers and more revenue from additional contributing members. But these types of spending decisions reduce the likelihood that individual teacher’s salaries will increase meaningfully over time.

Private schools have this advantage

The problem is that the public school monopoly currently has little incentive to allocate new resources to the students in the classrooms because public school families typically have no meaningful exit options. Actually have at least five Studies on this issue found that competition from nearby private and charter schools generally leads to higher salaries for teachers in the traditional public school system because competition gives their employers greater incentives to spend money wisely.

It is long overdue that we correct the screwed-up incentive structure that is baked into the public school system by directly funding the students and strengthening the families. As long as we don’t set our priorities correctly and student instead of institutions finance, these institutions will never be motivated to attend to the needs of students and their families.

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