This is unfortunate. The only real measure of success is not how much we are spending but whether we are getting the most bang for our bucks. American schools are already very well-funded. Moreover, there is little evidence that additional funding would much improve the quality of education.
In international comparisons of per-pupil expenditures, the U.S. ranks near the top of the list. According to OECD figures, the U.S. spends 78 percent more per primary school student than Germany, 58 percent more than France, 31 percent more than Japan, and 71 percent more than the U.K. But despite these large spending differentials, American students perform no better than average on international comparisons of math and reading skills.
Comparisons over time reveal a similar story. From 1960 to 2000, inflation-adjusted spending on education in the U.S. nearly tripled, yet test scores show little improvement, dropout rates are high, and a large racial achievement gap persists.
Education economist Caroline Hoxby explains that public schools today are doing less with more: school productivity -- achievement per dollar spent -- declined by 55 to 73 percent from 1971 to 1999. Meanwhile, private and charter schools are boosting student achievement with lower expenditures per pupil than public schools. In other words, there is no consistent, systematic relationship between education spending and student outcomes.
Trumpeting huge increases in education spending may lower the level of complaining from the NEA and other critics of President Bush's education policies, but "historic" new federal spending is nothing for a fiscal conservative to brag about. And given the weak effectiveness of money to improve education, it's nothing for an education reformer to boast about either.
Monday, July 25, 2005
My daughter, who works as a research assistant at AEI, and Veronique de Rugy, who is a research fellow there have published a column at TCS on how far we've come from the days when the GOP in the 1990s wanted to end federal spending on schools to trumpeting how much Bush has spent on education. As they point out, there is no correlation between spending and student achievement.
Posted by Betsy Newmark at 9:59 AM