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School Spending Lower Now than 2008 in 35 States… and No End In Sight

October 24, 2016

One graph from the Center on Budget and Public Priorities recent report titled “After a Decade, School Investments Still Way Down in Some States” provides a good synopsis of the bad news: 10-20-16sfp-f10

The bad news on funding is even worse for high poverty districts where local property taxes have been unable to fill the gap, particularly in those districts serving children in poverty where the tax bases are low and already overburdened.

The bad news is made even WORSE YET by the fact that Federal spending on education programs like Title One and Special Education is lower as well. Title I, funding for high poverty districts, has declined by 8.3% since 2010 and Special Ed funding is down by 6.4% over that same time period.

And to add insult to injury, spending on school facilities has declined by $28 billion or 37 percent between fiscal years 2008 and 2014 (the latest year available), after adjusting for inflation and employment i education has declined by over 220,000 while enrollments have increased by over 1.1 million during the same time period. This has not only hurt local school districts but eliminated jobs in education and construction, not to mention jobs lost due to the loss of purchasing power in schools as their budgets diminish.

And the real kicker is that in five of the states with the deepest cuts and three other states who cut resources to schools they also cut personal and corporate tax rates during that same time period, presumably on the theory that the savings to the wealthy would trickle down to the schools.

Spending on schools matters, as parents in affluent districts know well. That is why their property taxes and/or fees for public schooling have increased along with their housing values. It would be hopeful if either Presidential candidate saw this as an issue, but neither one has spoken out on the issue and to the bet of my knowledge no Governor is basing his or her platform the need to spend more on public education. Instead, canards about runaway spending on schools are repeated and the need for “reform” is echoed… but the evidence shows that money makes a difference. Too bad evidence doesn’t matter in this day and age.

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