Test Scores And The Level Of Education Spending Appear Unrelated
March 10, 1999
Since Congress passed the National Defense Education Act in 1958, the federal government has spent more than $1 trillion, inflation adjusted, on schools. Today, there are 760 federal education programs run by 39 agencies -- costing about $100 billion a year. Grade schools get about $15 billion of that.
But since the 1970s, average Scholastic Achievement Test scores have fallen -- even though the test was "recentered" in 1996, pushing up scores by about 100 points.
Scores are often most wretched in areas where education spending is highest.
- Spending $10,241 per pupil in the 1996-97 school year -- more than any other state -- New Jersey test scores ranked it 29th among the states.
- The District of Columbia, which placed 50th in SAT scores, spent $9,123 that academic year.
- New York came in at 31st, spending $8,564 per pupil, and Rhode Island spent $7,263 to achieve 34th place.
- Connecticut and Alaska tied for eighth place, however, on per-pupil budgets of $8,469 and $8,253, respectively.
Along with the costs to taxpayers for public schools, U.S. companies spend about $30 billion a year to retrain entry-level workers and lose about $30 billion more because of workers' poor reading and writing abilities.
Yet the Clinton administration wants to send nearly $35 billion to the Education Department next year -- and almost $40 billion in 2001. It is also asking for $11.4 billion for 100,000 new teachers over the next six years and $600 million to help schools end "social" promotions.
Source: Michael Chapman, "Will More School Money Help?" Investor's Business Daily, March 10, 1999.
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