NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis


August 2, 2007

The District of Columbia deserves the gratitude of taxpayers everywhere for giving the nation a lesson in governance.  It is proving that spending more on public schools is a waste of money, says, Terence P. Jeffrey, editor of Human Events.

According to the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES):

  • District of Columbia schools received federal subsidies of $2,383 per student enrolled in the District's primary and secondary schools in the 2003-2004 school year.
  • That was more than the per-pupil subsidy for any state and almost three times the national average of $864.
  • The District also spent a lot of its own money, racking up a combined local and federal total of $15,414 in spending per pupil, nearly double the national average of $8,899.


  • The District spent a total of $3,333 per student on new and remodeled buildings and maintenance.
  • Of all the states, only frozen Alaska approached this level of spending for facilities and maintenance.
  • The District also spent $994 per student on school administration; only two states, New Jersey and Vermont spent more.
  • In addition, $664 per student was spent on "instructional staff" -- classroom teachers, staff training, libraries and media and computer centers - more than any other state.

In return, however, it got less instruction than any state, says Jeffrey.  In the 2005 National Assessment of Educational Progress tests administered to eighth-graders, only 12 percent of District students scored grade-level proficient in reading and only 7 percent scored grade-level proficient in math.  No state did that poorly.  The District spent the most money and got the worst results.

Source: Terrence P. Jeffrey, "A Teaching Moment From the District of Columbia,", August 1, 2007.


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