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InsiderOnline Blog: September 2004

Fixing State Budgets 101

The Yankee Institute and the Friedman Foundation offer a quick education on how school choice could not only cure what's ailing student performance, but make a big dent in state budget crises as well. How? Let us count the ways.

    • The National Center for Education Statistics estimates the average per pupil spending in more cost efficient religious and independent schools at $4,600 -- a $2,000 savings when compared with per pupil spending at America's public schools.
    • In spite of the fact that that public schools' per pupil expenditure has increased 22.8 percent in constant dollars over the last two decades, the average score of today's high school pupils on most standardized tests is lower than it was in 1977.
    • Of the top ten states with the highest percentage increase in per pupil expenditures over the last twenty years, not one also appeared in the top ten for academic achievement.
    • Public school staffing is notoriously bloated, especially in the cities. In Washington, D.C., for example, only half the people on the District of Columbia Public School payroll are teachers.
    • [Teachers'] union-crafted work rules and promotion criteria are typically blind to such productivity related issues as competence, dedication, and innovation.

This school-spending problem is one the Thomas Jefferson Institute stumbled on in its annual budget analysis of Fairfax County in Virginia:

'Net overspending' has totaled $321,652,852 and the total overspending by the county during this period was only 16.8 percent of the total, or $54,125,080, while the school system accounted for 83.2 percent, or $267,527,772. (emphasis mine)

Posted on 09/07/04 03:52 PM by Mary Katherine Ham

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