Inside Education – Part 3 Finance: Do school budgets come fat-free?

Armand Fusco:

Over $850 billion is spent for public education and it should be evident from Parts 1 and 2 that there is ample “fat” for thousands of dollars to be pilfered from so-called “tight” budgets. Clearly, the budget review process and oversight is lacking accountability and it requires far more vigilance and aggressiveness to protect it from accumulating fat by simply maintaining the status quo.

Of interest is that nationally student enrollment grew 6% between 1977and 1998, but spending increased 23% (inflation adjusted); in Connecticut (my home state) there was a decrease of over 14% in enrollment, yet, spending still increased 24%–modern math at work; of course, this is happening in all states.

Do such spending increases result in improved performance or added value? The 1999 edition of the Report Card on American Education (issued by the American Legislative Exchange Council) analyzed more than 200 measures of educational resources and student achievement for the past 25 years, and arrived at a startling conclusion: “The popular assumption that correlates improved student performance alone with increasing education spending is not valid. The current path is not good enough, and that throwing more money at the problem is not the answer.” Why no real change? No one has been “spanked” for getting a bad report card; and maybe no one knows how to read the report cards.

Now get this: a far more dramatic conclusion was that “only higher (not lower) pupil-to-teacher ratios, fewer students per school, and a lower percentage of a state’s federal dollars have a positive impact on educational achievement” (this should certainly rattle some education cages).

Inside Education, Part 2 Finance: How Robin Hood Hogs Feast on the School Treasure Chests!