Schools keep crying for more money, but yet another study suggests more funding won’t solve the problems

Oct 29, 2013 by

WASHINGTON, D.C. – If the public school establishment is good at anything, it’s public relations. The teachers, administrators and school board members know how to get their message out, whether it’s accurate or not.

They constantly scream that public schools are absurdly underfunded, so we shouldn’t be surprised when test scores drop and students graduate without the ability to read their diploma.

“When people talk about other nations out-educating the United States, it needs to be remembered that those other nations are out-investing us in education as well,” said Randi Weingarten, president of the American Federation of Teachers.

The compliant media dutifully echoes those arguments.

“We can rebuild our public education system,” a guest columnist recently wrote in a Seattle area newspaper. “It will require the state to invest at least $1 billion more each year in K-12 education.”

Sure enough, the American people are eating up that message, hook, line and sinker.

In a recent Phi Delta Kappa/Gallup poll, the top response to a question about the biggest problem facing public schools was “funding,” according to

They’re correct, to an extent. But the problem is not the amount of funding that schools currently receive, it’s how they use it.

It’s an undisputed fact that roughly 80 percent of public school budgets are swallowed up by labor costs.

The theory is that well-compensated teachers, administrators and other employees will produce well educated students.

There’s only one problem. That theory is dead wrong.

In the private sector, higher salaries and better benefits are generally tied to performance. If the employee is productive and the company does well, the salary gets bigger.

In the era of union domination of public schools, there’s been little connection between employee performance and compensation. In most school districts across the nation, all teachers are given automatic, annual raises every year, based on years of service and number of graduate college classes completed.

Their classroom performance – their ability to effectively teach students – has nothing to do with it.

It makes no difference if the students of a particular teacher learn nothing at all. That teacher still gets the annual raise, just like everyone else.

Such a system, based on reward without achievement, is doomed to failure and bankruptcy. With no incentive to improve their performance, and virtually no threat of losing their jobs, many teachers don’t bother to put their best foot forward. Why would they?

Yet school administrators and union officials keep screaming for more funding every year. They say we can’t expect better academic results until we “fully fund schools.”

Of course they never say how much they need to get the job done. They only know they need more and more.

State-by-state spending study

A recently released report from State Budget Solutions shows “the states that spent the most money (on education) as a percentage of total spending did not produce students with better ACT scores or graduation rates.”

The study focused on state education spending for three years, from 2009 through 2011. It took into account “the funding that state and local governments generate, as well as additional federal contributions.”

Between 1970 and 2012, total average per pupil spending for U.S. public school students more than doubled, according to the report. Between 1984 and 2004 “real expenditures per pupil increased by 49 percent.”

Overall K-12 education funding accounts for nearly one-third of all state spending, the report said.

Yet the big investments are not yielding their predicted results.

“In 2010 total annual spending on education exceeded $809 billion dollars,” Bob Williams, president of State Budget Solutions, was quoted as saying. “That amount is higher than any other industrialized nation, and more than the spending of France, Germany, Japan, Brazil, the United Kingdom, Canada and Australia combined. However, our study clearly shows that spending money isn’t going to achieve the results that taxpayers are funding and parents are wanting.”

Here are a few examples to illustrate Williams’ point.

Four out of the five states that spent the most on education as a percentage of their budgets between 2009 and 2011 failed to produce higher graduation rates or ACT scores, according to the report.

Texas ranked first in education spending all three years of the study, but its students were below the national average in graduation rates and ACT scores every year, the report said. Arkansas was in the top five in education spending all three years, yet it’s ACT scores consistently fell below the national average and continue to decline, according to the report.

In all three years of the study, 45 states spent more than Massachusetts on education (as a percentage of total spending), but Massachusetts ranked first in the nation for average ACT scores all three years.

“Many states resort to throwing money at education in a poor attempt to improve test scores and graduation rates,” Williams said. “Instead, educators and elected officials need to look at what is working in various states with high ACT scores and graduation rates.

What they will see is that states taking a more active role in educational outcomes produce better performance results. Taking a more active role in education includes developing flexible, practical education plans tailored to state students or prioritizing school district transparency to minimize waste and fraud.”

Schools keep crying for more money, but yet another study suggests more funding won’t solve the problems – powered by Education Action Group Foundation, Inc..

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1 Comment

  1. Avatar
    Pierce Buncombe

    Wow, a study from Bob Williams, who is a policy chair for ALEC, finds that money doesn’t matter. What a surprise! This is the top notch “news and analysis” I’ve come to expect from the EAG pseudo news folks.

    Here’s Willliams’ profile from his website:
    Bob Williams

    Bob Williams is President of State Budget Solutions, a non-partisan organization advocating for fundamental reform and REAL solutions to the state budget crises.

    Bob is a former state legislator, gubernatorial candidate and official with the General Accountability Office. Bob is a national expert in fiscal and tax policies, election reform and disaster preparedness. Because of his unique experience and expertise, Bob is a frequent guest on talk radio and at public forums. His commentary on state budget solutions appears frequently in newspapers, journals and online publications.

    Bob Williams is the Founder and Senior Fellow of the Freedom Foundation, a public policy organization in Olympia, Washington, dedicated to the advancement of individual liberty. He received his Bachelor of Science in Business Administration from Pennsylvania State University. Bob worked as a GAO auditor of the Pentagon and Post Office before moving to Washington state where he served five terms in the Washington state legislature and was the 1988 Republican nominee for governor. He is a former certified public accountant. Currently Bob is the private sector chair of the ALEC Tax & Fiscal Policy Task Force.

    Now here’s a more credible source:

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