Skip to comments.EDUCATION SPENDING: Ratio of per-pupil spending in 1959, compared to 1999, adjusted for inflation
Posted on 04/23/2002 7:09:14 PM PDT by the
EDUCATION SPENDING: Friday over lunch the question of education spending came up again; and I was reminded of an interesting statistical question -- what is the ratio, adjusted for inflation, of per-pupil spending in, say, 1959-60, compared to 1999-2000?
Whenever I ask this, someone nearly always says "Oh, spending back then was much greater than it is now" (again, adjusting for inflation). Well, if you go to the 2001 Digest of Education Statistics, table 167, you see the answer: Per pupil spending, in 2000-01 dollars, was $2235 in 1959-60, and $7591 in 1999-2000. Spending has risen by a factor of 3.3 in the last 40 years.
Ah, some might say, but even if spending has increased, school staffing has gotten worse -- aren't there more pupils per teacher now than before? Well, no. Table 65 tells us that in 1960 the pupil-teacher ratio was 25.8 in public schools; in 2000, the ratio was 16.0.
Still, one might reason, surely we spend less a fraction of our nation's wealth on education now than we did back then. Table 29 suggests otherwise: The U.S. spent 3.3% of the Gross Domestic Product on primary and secondary education in 1959, and 4.4% in 1999.
But that money must all be frittered away on administration rather than instruction, at least as compared to 1960. Well, table 164 suggests that this isn't so: The ratio of instructional expenses to all current expenses in 1959 was 67.7%; in 1998, it was 61.7%, somewhat less but not tremendously so. I know of no evidence that the definition of "instructional expenses" has changed materially since then, though if some of you do know of such evidence, please let me know.
What does this all mean about educational policy? By itself, not much; and I hasten to stress that I'm not an educational policy expert, and don't know how to cure what ails American education. But it does suggest to me that we should take with a grain of salt the casual assumption that the problems of American education are caused by underfunding, or can be cured by funding increases.
'course somebody's gotta pay for all the whatever-centric programs and the diversity programs and the "How to enjoy being a faggot" programs.
Hmmm... interesting... NONE of those programs have anything to do with why the kids are there: readin', writin' and 'rithmetric.
The writer admits to not having the full picture on this angle and I think it is the culprit. I can name school districts in my state that spend less than 1% of their operating budgets on curriculum and textbooks. It explains why when I was in school we had books issued to us and now the students often have no books, but instead get copies of worksheets from books. My guess is that student books are less important to our school districts than having a nice conference room in which to conduct labor negotiations.
I'll bet the numbers are striking.
Does anyone have the figures?
Ha!! That's O.K. it is wrong. My husband, in his haste to sign on years ago, misspelled Cincinnatus and it went through.
He just left it when he found out there was another correcly spelled freeper with the same name. So there it is.
About 3 years ago we had a weird little dust-up here in Glynn county.
First, the school board "discovered" that about 7 million dollars was "missing" from its funds. Funds that had been hugely bloated by a SPLOST- special local option sales tax, which raised ( I had a typo "raided"- how revealing! ) out taxes for 3% to 6%.....
Second, the figure just kept growing... to 8, then 9, then 11 million.....
And then, the Superintendent, who had the responsiblity for all this, went into the hospital and died there....
Despite calls, letters, and demands to the local & state-level politicians, and Grand Jury "investigations," nothing much has been found, or done.
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