The United States invests over $660 billion for K-12 education, or over $13,000 per student, each year, on average.1 Real education expenditures in the U.S. have nearly quadrupled in the past half century without consistent improvements in student outcomes (Hanushek, 1997, 2015a, 2015b; Hanushek & Lindseth, 2009, 2010). Because education dollars are scarce resources, and because students’ academic success is important for society, it’s vital to examine which education sector delivers the most “bang for the buck.”
In theory, private schools and public charter schools might be more cost-effective than traditional public schools because of competitive pressures (Friedman,
Theoretically, it is possible that private schools and public charter schools have stronger financial incentives to spend scarce education dollars efficiently than traditional public schools because schools of choice must attract their customers (Friedman,
Madison’s taxpayer supported K-12 school district, despite spending far more than most, has long tolerated disastrous reading results.
In addition, Madison recently expanded its least diverse schools.