(The Center Square) – Despite Gov. Andrew Cuomo withholding 20 percent of state aid allocations to public schools, New York's education spending per pupil would still be “the highest per-pupil expenditure in the world” if the state were a country, the Empire Center says.
Ian Kingsbury, a fellow at the center, argues New York would have spent $2,000 more per student than Luxembourg, the world’s wealthiest country and leader in K-12 per-student spending.
Kingsbury’s analysis is based on the most recent Census Bureau data available for the 2017-2018 school year, when New York spent a record $24,040 per K-12 student. That was nearly double the national average of $12,612 per student per year.
Spending since then has not gone down, but up.
According to the National Center for Education Statistics, the U.S. average spending per student each year is roughly $15,000. Inflation-adjusted K-12 education spending per student has increased by 280 percent since 1960.
In the 2017-2018 school year, 39.6 percent of K-12 education funding in New York came from the state. Assuming that this funding level stayed the same and had not increased over the last four years, a loss of 20 percent this year would still means average per-student funding would total $22,136.
This is still 85 percent more than the G7 average of $11,100 per student and twice as much as Finland, Kingsbury notes.
Despite its highest-in-the-nation and highest worldwide spending, New York students fare no better or worse than the national average of 4th or 8th grade reading or 8th grade math, according to National Assessment of Educational Progress data. They even fared significantly worse than the national average for 4th grade math.
The idea behind some approaches to education reform is that more money produces improved educational and testing outcomes. Poor grades and poor outcomes are a result of lack of funds and resources, unions and some education groups have argued.
But according to numerous studies reviewed by Stanford University economist Eric Hanushek, increased spending on education doesn’t produce better educational outcomes.
Hanushek reviewed nearly 400 studies on the correlation between funding and outcomes. He concluded that they “demonstrate that there is not a strong or consistent relationship between student performance and school resources, at least after variations in family inputs are taken into account.
“These results are also reconciled with meta-analytic approaches and with other investigations on how school resources affect labor market outcomes,” Hanushek added, arguing, “Simple resource policies hold little hope for improving student outcomes.”
Demands made by governors for more federal money is not the answer, Corey DeAngelis at Reason Foundation and Matthew Nielsen at the Educational Freedom Institute, argue in an op-ed published by the Washington Examiner.
They point to a 2017 EdChoice report, "Back to the Staffing Surge," written by Benjamin Scafidi, who concluded that the problem isn’t the level of funding but how the money is allocated.
“Surges in staffing and administrative bloat have become the norm across the country,” DeAngelis and Nielsen argue. “From 1950 to 2009, student populations increased by 96 percent, while non-teaching staff increased by a whopping 702 percent.”
The report found that between 1992 and 2014, real education spending per pupil increased by 27 percent, whereas real teacher salaries dropped by 2 percent.
“What makes defenders of the government schooling monopoly think that the money will actually make it into the classroom this time around?” DeAngelis and Nielsen ask. “How can we change the system so that education dollars are spent wisely? How can we ensure that the money will be used to help students?”
Instead, when looking at a 20 percent decrease to the highest-funded public school system in the world, Kingsbury says, “amidst a dire fiscal outlook facing New York, decision makers can look home and abroad for solutions to do substantially more with less.”