MONEY MYTH IN EDUCATION

January 2, 2007

Decades worth of evidence have shown more money is not the answer to improving the quality of education in America.  This month, the American Legislative Exchange Council -- the largest U.S. nonpartisan group of state legislators -- released the 2006 Report Card on American Education concluding that "despite substantial increases in resources being spent on primary and secondary education over the past two decades -- per pupil expenditures have increased by 77.4 percent (after adjusting for inflation) -- student performance has improved only slightly."

Since 1983 every state has increased its spending on the education system with Maine, Georgia and South Carolina topping the charts for largest increases.  But according to the 2006 Report Card's state academic achievement rankings, these three states were not in the top 10 states for test scores:

  • Only Maine ranked in the top 20 at 18th while South Carolina and Georgia ranked 40th and 45th, respectively.
  • In fact, of the 10 states that increased their spending the most, only two were ranked in the top 10 according to academic achievement and three of them ranked among the worst 10.
  • ALEC's 2006 Report Card reveals that New Jersey is the second-highest spender per pupil at $13,674 in the country (an amount that could cover a top-notch private school's tuition), has the fourth-smallest average class size in the country and pays more for its teachers than 47 other states do.
  • For the students trapped in New Jersey's 96 failing schools, these efforts have not helped.

Giving parents more control over their children's education starts fundamentally at school selection.  Upper class Americans have enjoyed the power to send their kids to the school of their choice for generations.  Why not afford all American parents the same opportunity?  Research has shown that when parents, regardless of income, can enroll their kids in schools of their choosing kids perform better.  Why should living in a bad neighborhood mean you must go to a bad school? 

Source: Matt Warner, "Money myth in education," New York Times, January 2, 2006.

 

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