Last week, the Washington Post published a piece that made the empirically dubious claim that education spending has declined since the 1980s. In 1980, the average per-student expenditures were $7,359 in real terms, compared to $13,180 in 2015. Today, WaPo finally issued a correction.
This isn’t merely a matter of mixing up the numbers. For decades, the same claim has been made that our schools are suffering because we aren’t spending enough money. At some point, the facts should matter when discussing the deeply important question of how to fix our schools.
While it is encouraging to see the WAPO fix the error it is seriously concerning that such blatant statements are still making their way into education policy discussions. It’s important to note that the author of the WaPo piece is the dean of UVA’s school of education.
Lets take D.C. The district spends about $30,000 per student every year in the public education system. Yet, DC consistently ranks at the bottom of national rankings. And just 2 out of 10 eighth-graders can read or do math proficiently. Money isn’t the problem.
“All we need is more money” is the most pernicious myth in education today. Spending has more than doubled, and the achievement gap remains steady despite the increase. Educators are panicked.
And in Washington DC they’ve proven that more money doesn’t solve the problem. Every student gets the same dollars, except the at-risk kids get even more. Yet the achievement gap remains. Why? Bad teachers? No money? Bad curriculum? Not enough testing?
Without exception, every defender of public schools is more interested in saving public schools than in saving public schoolchildren.
The reason educators keep coming up with education-based solutions to a societal problem is so they can retain control and get more money. If you think the teacher’s unions are about helping kids, it may be time to re-evaluate.