Figures for K-12 education spending updated this week show a continuing lack of connection between funding and higher school quality.
A review by the American Media
Institute finds that school systems in the heartland of the U.S. are managing
to maintain a high quality of education while paring costs.
The review, using U.S.
Census figures on per-pupil funding and an education
quality study released this month by fiscal research website
WalletHub, shows that three of the top 15 states ranked for quality had cut
spending (in inflation-adjusted dollars) between 2010 and 2014, while two others increased spending by less
than 1 percent.
The top ranked state, Massachusetts,
bumped its education spending 2.3 percent in 2014, while Connecticut, which
increased its spending the most of all states at 9.6 percent, ranks second in
the WalletHub research.
Wisconsin decreased education
spending 9.3 percent and ranked fifth on the WalletHub chart, while Indiana cut
spending 8.5 percent and ranked 12th.
Three states that enacted
double-digit cuts to education spending, Idaho, Arizona and West Virginia, all
finished in the bottom 20 in the rankings.
New York at $20,610, and the
District of Columbia, at $18,485, spent the most per pupil in 2014 overall
spending on education.
The District spent $1,636 per
student, or almost 9 percent, on administrative costs, almost 30 percent above
the national average of seven percent. The District ranked 47th on
the WalletHub survey.
It was one of 13 states that spent more than $1,000 per pupil on administrative costs. Administration is 4.4 percent of
the per-pupil spend in Massachusetts, second lowest in the U.S.. Only New York,
at 3.7 per cent, is lower.
New York has led the U.S. in
spending-per-pupil since 2011. It ranked 25th on the WalletHub list.
The national average for 2014 was
$11,009 per student.
Utah ranked at the bottom in per-pupil
funding for 2014 at $6,500 and ranked 18th on WalletHub.
Researchers for years have conducted
studies trying to determine if spending on education produces academic results, without reaching a consensus.
study in 2014 by the Center for American Progress found that some school districts with the biggest expenditures posted mediocre results.
slightly more than one-third of the districts in the top third in spending were
also in the top third in achievement,” the report’s authors wrote.
A report last year from the
National Bureau of Economic Research claimed that a 10 percent increase in
per-pupil spending leads to more completed years of education and a higher
"Spending increases were associated with notable
improvements in measured school inputs, including reductions in
student-to-teacher ratios, increases in teacher salaries, and longer
school years," said the study, conducted by three academics from Northwestern University and University of California at Berkeley.
That view is opposed by some, who deny the money-performance connection.
is no credible scholarly evidence that shows that increasing education funding
leads to increased student performance,” said Jonathan Butcher, education
director for the Goldwater Institute in Phoenix, Ariz.
higher spending in places like the East Coast, including New York,
Massachusetts and Washington D.C. reflects the higher cost of living and
politically powerful teacher unions, Butcher said.
funding, he said, has remained the same in adjusted dollars for some time,
having leveled off since the economic downturn in 2008.
the debate remains over whether more money means better student performance,
Butcher predicted federal funding will increase when the economy turns around