(NationalSentinel) While Democrats running for their party’s 2020 presidential nomination claim on the campaign trail that the Trump administration and Republicans have dramatically cut federal and state education dollars, a new analysis finds just the opposite: Spending on education, especially primary education, is actually at an all-time high.
“Over the past decade, states all over America have made savage cuts to education…. Teachers are paid starvation wages and schools across underserved urban and rural parts of our country are crumbling,” Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT.) has said.
“We’ve gotta use our federal education laws to help supplement so we can get real money into our public schools K–12. It’s absolutely critical. These are our children,” noted Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) adds.
“There’s an estimated $23 billion annual funding gap between white and non-white school districts today, and gaps persist between high- and low-income districts as well,” former Vice President Joe Biden claimed recently.
In reality, a new analysis by the Manhattan Institute found that spending on education has gone up, not down, and is now at its highest level.
“Over the past half-century, America’s per-pupil spending on K–12 education has nearly tripled, and, despite a dip from decreased tax revenues during the Great Recession, it now stands at an all-time high in most states,” the analysis says.
“The U.S. spends more money per pupil on primary and secondary schools than any other major developed nation, and American teachers earn substantially more than their peers in the private sector,” the analysis added.
Local school funding is heavily reliant on revenues from property taxes in most venues. That said, the institute notes that state and federal contributions “ensure that a state’s per-pupil spending is comparable across race and socioeconomic status.”
In other words, no, we’re not ‘underfunding’ schools that are filled that are mostly filled with minorities.
And here’s something else: The analysis noted that the dollar amount spent has little to do with overall academic outcomes.
“The challenge for American K–12 education is to provide students with equal opportunity despite significant inequalities of circumstance. Achievement gaps by race, class, and zip code still persist, but inadequate and inequitable school spending are not among the causes,” the analysis notes.
Here are some additional key findings:
- U.S. per-pupil expenditures have nearly tripled over the past half-century, from $4,720 in 1966 to $13,847 in 2016 (these are 2018 dollars)
- The U.S. “spends more per pupil than any other major developed nation—10% more than the United Kingdom and 28% more than France; in the OECD, only Norway, Switzerland, and Luxembourg spend more.”
The analysis also found that less than 1 in 20 American schools are actually in “poor” condition. What’s more, moves into teaching actually raise incomes for most.
- Schools have become substantially more spacious in recent decades and federal data now report that only 3% of schools overall—and only 4% of high-poverty schools—are in “poor” condition.
- The typical private-sector worker experiences an 8% compensation increase when transitioning into education, while the typical teacher experiences a 3% salary decrease when transitioning into the private sector.
- Rising spending has not boosted teacher pay because the explosion in nonteaching staff has absorbed it instead; if the ratio of nonteaching staff to student enrollment had remained at its 1992 level, the money saved could have provided teachers with an additional $11,000 in compensation.
Thanks to changes in state-funding formulas ordered by courts, spending per-pupil has leveled out and is relatively the same by race and socioeconomic status in all states.
“Misleading rhetoric has left Americans believing that we spend far less on education than we actually do. Contrary to the dark picture painted by politicians, America ranks among the world’s leaders in education spending,” said Max Eden, a senior fellow at the Manhattan Institute.
“Our schoolhouses are well maintained, our teachers are well paid, and our students are equitably funded. It’s surely a politician’s prerogative to argue for more spending, but an honest debate should begin with an acknowledgment of America’s already abundant expenditures, not with a false story of fiscal scarcity,” he added.
Because of Left-wing Democratic rhetoric, however, most Americans believe our country dramatically underspends on public education, when the opposite is true, the institute noted, adding:
These misconceptions are undoubtedly rooted in the disconnect between political rhetoric and fiscal reality. Bernie Sanders, for instance, laments that public education has seen “savage” cuts, our teachers are being paid “starvation wages,” and our schools are “crumbling.” By contrast, as a candidate, Donald Trump declared that the U.S. spends “more per student than almost any major country in the world,” a statement that Politifact rated “true.”
The institute notes that, on average, the U.S. spends 35 percent more per pupil than the average among countries in the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD).
And yet, Left-wing politicians and liberal think tanks claim that we’re undercutting education. For example, the institute noted, in 2017 the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities issued a report claiming that “twenty-nine states provided less overall state funding per student in the 2015 school year (the most recent year available) than in the 2008 school year, before the recession took hold.”
And yet, the figures were grossly misleading. They measured only state spending, which accounts for less than 45 percent of the overall spending on education.
“Thanks in part to increased federal spending, national per-pupil expenditures fell by only $631 from the 2008–09 school year to the 2012–13 school year, and have increased every year since, surpassing pre-recession levels to reach an all-time high in 2017, the latest year for which national data are available (2018 dollars),” the institute noted.
By Jon Dougherty, The National Sentinel
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