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Federal education spending is stuck at pre-2007
levels. That’s bad news, because federal education
programs provide states with funding to protect
vulnerable populations of students—those who are
from low-income families, those learning English,
and those with disabilities to name only a few.
Dwindling federal money puts even more pressure
on state and local budgets.
The increasing reliance on local revenues
exacerbates inequities, since wealthier communities
can pass local levies and pay higher property taxes
than communities with fewer financial resources.
Bottom line: Per-pupil funding in most states,
and federal education spending, have declined
to dangerously low levels. State and federal
lawmakers should be held accountable.
FACT: Voucher schemes drain
resources from neighborhood
To claim otherwise is outrageous.
Voucher pushers gloss over the fact
that making public education money
“portable”—that is, removing the
average per-pupil funding for each
student who receives a voucher—
quickly hacks into funds needed to
sustain a public school system. The per
pupil average may not reflect the resources
required to educate that particular student.
Here’s why: Research shows that most
vouchers go to middle-class kids who already
attend private schools. These students typically
require fewer resources to educate than
children who are living in poverty, learning
English, or have special needs.
And the costs of keeping the lights on,
maintaining the building and school campus,
transporting kids, and keeping appropriate class
sizes are costs that barely go down if a few
History teacher Jonathan Parker believes voucher
diehards know full well that their schemes drain
resources from public schools. He teaches at
Glendale Union High School in Arizona, where
Gov. Doug Ducey has drastically expanded the
state’s voucher program.
“Politicians starving public schools create a selffulfilling
prophecy—programs are cut, class sizes
swell, quality teachers leave, thereby concocting an
artificial demand for privatization,” says Parker.
That’s precisely what President Trump and
Education Secretary Betsy DeVos are doing at the
federal level. They will pull taxpayer dollars out of
critical programs like Title I, which adds money
to public schools that serve low-income kids, to
coerce states to follow their agenda.
“Whatever remedies privatization offers is nothing
that a properly funded public school would not also
provide to all students,” says Jonathan Parker.
Bottom line: Taxpayer dollars cannot support
two education systems. Diverting our money
from public schools that serve all children to
unaccountable private schools is reckless
FACT: Education spending
makes a difference—especially
for low-income students.
Do not allow anyone to tell you that the U.S. spends
too much on education.
Yes, overall U.S. education spending is on the high
side among developed nations. But our rate of child
poverty far exceeds almost all other countries included
in such comparisons. Our schools must spend to
counter the effects of poverty while many European
countries and Canada, for example, alleviate those
conditions through other government spending.
The good news is that the services public schools
provide are working. For poor children, a 20
percent increase in per-pupil spending each year
of their K-12 education is associated with nearly
a full additional year of completed education,
25 percent higher earnings, and a 20 percent
reduction in the annual incidence of poverty in
adulthood (Source: National Bureau of Economic
Research, 2014 and 2016).
Also: More than 30 years of research shows that
smaller class sizes are better. Class size reduction is
one of only four evidence-based reforms that have
been proven to increase student achievement. All
students benefit from individual, active attention from
their teachers, which is compromised when class
Bottom line: Money matters a lot in education,
and it matters how it is spent.