"For the 2012-2013 school year, Minneapolis Public Schools budgeted an average of $23,020 per student."
Public School Spending
Americans are continually talking about the nation’s deplorable state of public education. Solutions to the problem abound, some of which include school choice, longer school days, smaller class sizes, and more teacher accountability. One of the most commonly proposed solutions to this problem, however, is to spend more money.
Because we care about the future of our children and want them to have a good education, spending more money for schools seems like a good idea. But does more money really provide the best form of education possible?
The modern era of the American public school system began in the late 19th century. Around that time, spending per child averaged a little over $150 dollars and was largely financed by local funds. A century later, that number increased to nearly $5,000 and schools were relying more and more on state and even federal tax dollars.
Much of this dramatic spending increase occurred in the decades after 1970, as schools sought to hire more teachers with advanced degrees, reduce class sizes, and build a larger administrative staff. Thus, the money influx did not necessarily go directly for instruction purposes, a fact which could partially explain the stagnant reading, math, and science scores the U.S. continues to experience.
Spending per student is sometimes difficult to determine, largely because states fail to have a clear, updated, and accurate reporting system. As a result, the general public often believes education spending is much lower than the true amount.
Today the Department of Education reports public school spending to be over $10,000 per student. The spending of individual school districts, though, is often thousands more than that. For instance, the Minneapolis Public School District spends over $20,000 per child.
Approximately three-fifths of the national spending per student average goes to instruction purposes. The rest goes to items such as facilities, transportation, administration, and staff costs.
To some, $10,000 per child seems like a lot of money to be spending, particularly when many private and home schools spend far less and generally get better academic results. Because of this, it is suggested that minimally increasing class sizes and providing incentives for talented teachers who do their job effectively would be a way to save money and boost achievement, particularly in a time when budgets are strained. It is also noted that other nations which spend less than the U.S. on education do much better academically, suggesting that spending is not a panacea for education problems.
Far more common, however, is the view touted by many politicians during election season, namely, that our schools are suffering for lack of money and the only way to keep up with the rest of the world is to avoid cutting spending. Furthermore, it is argued that public schools need more money than private and home schools because they offer extras, such as special education, honors programs, and transportation services.
To help you determine whether or not the public schools spend too much or too little, this library section examines the history and expansion of public school spending, while also offering a variety of facts and figures on the state of spending in the current education system.
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