NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis

Opinion: Teachers Unions Cry For More Money

March 6, 1997

Despite reams of studies that demonstrate that more public funds for education do not produce better-educated students, the two major teachers unions support substantial funding.

U. S. Education Department data show that since World War II, real per-pupil spending in public schools has risen roughly 40 percent in each decade.

Despite a possible recent slight improvement, student performance scores have followed a distinctly downward course during much of that time. The problem, experts say, is not lack of funds.

  • University of Rochester economist Eric Hanushek, after reviewing 377 studies, said that for more than two decades "researchers have tried to identify inputs that are reliably associated with student achievement" but "they have not found any."
  • Julian Betts, an economist at the University of California - San Diego, has concluded on the basis of research that teacher-pupil ratios, teachers' salaries or even teachers' own educational levels do not significantly affect future adult earnings of white males.
  • Harvard economist Caroline Hoxby has estimated based on Census Department data that unionized school districts spend 12 percent more per pupil than nonunionized ones, but the unionized districts' dropout rate is 2.3 percentage points higher.

Critics say teachers' unions should not get the money they seek until they can demonstrate that it will do any good.

Source: Carl Horowitz, "Why Teachers' Unions Don't Get It," Investor's Business Daily, March 6, 1997.


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