NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis


September 22, 2009

A coalition of education activists and union officials is suing the people of Washington, claiming taxpayers are not fulfilling the constitutional paramount duty to provide "ample" funding for public schools.

An in-depth study by Washington Policy Center finds the lawsuit's claim is not supported by research data.  The main finding of "An Overview of Public Schools Funding in Washington" by school financing analyst Liv Finne is that by any reasonable measure Washington taxpayers are providing ample funding for public schools.

For example:

  • Schools receive more than $10,000 per pupil per year, about one-third more than private schools spend per student.
  • Public education funding has tripled in real terms over the last three decades, including local, state and federal sources.
  • Since 1980 the number of public school students increased 25 percent, while the number of education employees increased 68 percent.
  • In 2009, while facing a $9 billion deficit, lawmakers still increased state education spending by 2.8 percent over the previous budget.


  • Only 59 cents of every public education dollar reaches the classroom.
  • More than half of people employed by public schools are not teachers.
  • One-third of public school students fail to graduate.
  • Artificial works rules bar highly-qualified professionals, such as university professors or Microsoft engineers, from being recruited to teach public school students.

Source: Liv Finne, "An Overview of Public School Funding in Washington," Washington Policy Center, August 31, 2009.


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