NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis

Increases in Education Spending Do Not Result in Higher Academic Performance

December 12, 2012

As discretionary spending cuts enter the fiscal cliff discussion, many have come out against slashing funds for education. The entire educational establishment, including powerful teacher unions, has lobbied to prevent cuts to education. Even President Obama has argued in favor of investing more in education, says Sally Lovejoy, an education expert at the American Action Forum.

However, lawmakers need to look at the fact that student achievement has not increased despite the increase in dollars that have been pumped into state and federal education programs. It is true that investment in education is an investment in the future of the economy, but changes need to be made to current policies.

  • Federal spending has increased for elementary and secondary education programs, especially Title I for disadvantaged students.
  • However, two-thirds of students still can't read or solve mathematical problems at grade level.
  • The government has increased the amount of Pell grants despite having a $5.7 billion budget shortfall this year.
  • But nearly 40 percent to 50 percent of Pell grant recipients fail to acquire a college degree.

Discussions over the fiscal cliff should include talks about linking educational spending to academic results. Not only will this eliminate waste, it will also encourage schools to improve educational standards. Some proposals include:

  • Give bonus payments to schools that narrow achievement gaps and increase academic gains among minority students.
  • Withhold Title I funds if academic gains are not made among disadvantaged students.
  • Force students that receive Pell grants to repay the government if they do not complete the academic year in which the grant was received.

Source: Sally Lovejoy, "Increases in Education Spending Do Not Result in Higher Academic Performance," American Action Forum, November 29, 2012.


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