NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis

Expensive Education Reform does Little to Improve Test Scores

May 3, 2004

Ten years after Michigan sought to narrow the gap in public school spending between high and low income districts via a constitutional amendment there has been little improvement in school performance, says Lawrence W. Reed (Mackinac Center for Public Policy).

The constitutional amendment equalized differences in per student spending to the point that now every school district is a high-spending one. Overall, for K-12 schools in Michigan:

  • In 1995, many public schools received $3,000 to $5,000 per student, whereas the wealthier school districts spent $6,500 or more per student.
  • Operating funding for public schools increased by 45.2 percent from 1994 to 2001, almost three times the inflation rate.
  • Over this same period, infrastructure funding, including property taxes for new buildings and technology, increased by 147.8 percent.

Despite larger funding, many school districts harbor poorly managed and poorly performing schools. Michigan's Board of Education, however, says that schools in which 56 percent of students are not proficient in math and 48 percent not proficient in English are meeting "adequate yearly progress" goals.

Source: Lawrence W. Reed, "'Proposal A,' 10 Years Later," Viewpoint on Public Issues No. 2004-06, Mackinac Center for Public Policy, February 2, 2004.

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