Focus Point - School Spending

Commentary by Pete du Pont

I'm Pete du Pont with the National Center for Policy Analysis. What makes students learn more? It's been taken for granted for years that spending more money could fix the problem. So the American Legislative Exchange Council looked at expenditures and test scores from 1976 to 2000.

Expenditures per pupil have gone up 22 percent in the last 20 years while test scores have stayed the same. And there's no rhyme or reason linking the two. Iowa, Minnesota and Wisconsin have the nation's top-performing elementary and secondary schools, yet ranked 32nd, 14th and 9th respectively in spending. Mississippi and the District of Columbia were at the bottom in performance, while Mississippi was 50th in spending, D.C. was 5th.

So if spending doesn't work, what does?

Well, it comes down to having good teachers. We can wave laws that require a teaching degree, but that's a micro fix. The only macro fix is letting parents pick schools that deliver. It's the only thing that will give schools that do it wrong the incentive to do it better.

Those are my ideas, and at the NCPA we know ideas can change the world. I'm Pete du Pont. Next time campaign finance reform.