New Education Study Shows: We’re Paying More for Less

CascadeNewLogoAdvocates on all sides of the public education spending-versus-results debate cite various statistics to make their respective cases. Some argue that more money leads to better results. Others claim that spending more dollars per student―at least in the ways our public school system has spent them―makes little or no difference in educational outcomes; and it appears the evidence is strongly on their side.

A new Cato Institute study, State Education Trends: Academic Performance and Spending over the Past 40 Years, uses adjusted state SAT score averages to track educational performance trends over the last four decades. The findings are staggering: Academic performance has declined despite large increases in real per-pupil spending.

According to Cato, “The study reveals that the average state has seen a three percent decline in academic performance despite a more than doubling in inflation-adjusted per-pupil spending. More strikingly, every state school system in the country has suffered a collapse in productivity over the last 40 years. Essentially, there has been no correlation between state spending and academic performance.”

In Oregon, public education spending has increased 60% in real terms, yet SAT scores have been flat. The study’s results demonstrate that throwing more money at public education has been ineffective at improving student performance. Rather than spend even more, we should let parents direct education funding to the schools of their choice. Unleashing consumer power gets more bang for the buck throughout the economy; it’s time to put it to work in education as well.

Kathryn Hickok is Publications Director and Director of the Children’s Scholarship Fund-Portland program at Cascade Policy Institute.

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Posted by at 05:00 | Posted in Education | Tagged , , , | 19 Comments |Email This Post Email This Post |Print This Post Print This Post
  • Bob Clark

    The government sector is a negative productivity sector, offsetting a large portion of the large productivity gains in the private sector (by the government’s own metrics). It is obvious education should be deregulated. An initial positive step would be to cut the cord between the Oregon legislature and the Oregon University System by giving colleges independence and responsibility to be self financing while the legislature creates individual education accounts for individual financing of education; using existing higher education general funds monies.

  • Sally

    How about cutting the cord between the legislature and the teacher’s union?

    • guest

      Almighty public employee and teacher unions are cause for much discord. They’ve learned their lessons well from private mentors like the ILWU.

  • Jack Lord God

    Of the three education choices Public, Private and Home School, public education is the most expensive per pupil both comparatively and in terms of increase over time. Anyone want to argue all that money is worth it? Because consistently by virtually every measure our most expensive education option, public schools, time after time produce the worst results of the three options.

    Currently our priority in public schools is teachers, not education. You can cut back on class time and educational performance, but you dare not touch pay or cushy perks.

    It’s time to make education the priority, not teachers unions. Step one, school choice. Step two, pay for performance, step three , fire the teachers union if they raise a peep about step one or two.

    This is one of those problems that can be squarely laid at the feet of the Democratic party. Our education system at all levels is a bastion of Democrat party affiliation. You can see it everywhere, from the horrors of NYC mayor DeBlasio closing the charter schools parents were so desperately trying to get their kids into in the movie Waiting for Superman all the way to the White House, where Obamas kids go to private school. This needs to end and the Democratic party needs to be held to account.

    Sure it’s incendiary, but I consider the Democratic parties destruction of our education system to be the worst thing they have done since segregation.

    • Myke

      At what point do you hold students/families accountable? As a teacher, math, this blind idea that I’m responsible for instilling a sense of future into every kid, some who are just not mature enough to take a responsible look at their own path toward their future, is just an abdication of a parents responsibility. If I talk to a board long enough, its still going to be a board.

      Now, I’m not disagreeing with the idea that teaching needs to be more productive. I came from industry to teach kids who can’t count. In the course of a day, each student can have the equivalent of 1/2 of 1% of my time. Most students, those who listen or readily get the lesson, give their time to those students who need additional help; but it only takes one kid being a jerk by disrupting the class to throw the whole process out of order. What, in all wisdom, shall we do about that? BTW, tech toys and more specialists aren’t the answer either.

      • Jack Lord God

        >At what point do you hold students/families accountable?

        At plenty of points. I would gladly say that parents have a great hand in our falling test scores.

        However that is clearly not the entire problem. Spending per pupil in constant dollars has doubled since the late 70’s, teachers get paid more than ever and teachers unions are incredibly powerful politically. You name it, private schools, charter schools, home schooling, all outperform traditional public schools. That’s not a parenting problem.

        Teachers unions also fight tooth and nail against anything that does work – such as charter schools. That’s not the parents fault either. Indeed parents in some of the worst education districts in the country fight incredibly hard to get their kids into charter schools.

        Have you seen the movie “Waiting for Superman”? It will break your heart. You see the lucky kids win the lottery to get into charter schools, the ones that don’t are sentenced to a sub standard education. Their parents and the child cry knowing that child has just been condemned to a much harder life. Those parents sure as hell care. What do teachers unions do with these [parents that clearly care? They got Mayor DeBlasio to close down the charter schools featured in the movie. That sure isn’t the parents fault. That is the fault of a teachers union so incredibly evil I am not sure my comparison to segregationists in the south is strong enough.

        > but it only takes one kid being a jerk by disrupting the class to throw
        the whole process out of order. What, in all wisdom, shall we do about
        that?

        Easiest problem in the world. Expel the student. We do it in every other realm of life. Private schools certainly have that ability. College ceretainly does as well. When you get a job, yep, you can be expelled from that as well. Why not do the same? Change the rules to allow it.

        Right now the only thing you can possibly get expelled for is making a pop tart into a gun shape or wearing an NRA shirt. That’s ninnydom

        What to do with expelled students? Send them to drop out factories (schools where education goes to die and are essentially an expensive baby sitting service). Give up on the kid. No point in ruining every other students education on the off chance of reforming the jerk. I know I’m tired of paying for them. Be a loser on your own dime. Great way to get rid of loser teachers as well. Great teachers stay in the good schools, consolidate poor teachers in the drop out factories. Locate the prison next door, shooting range in between. Have all school bus routes drive by it so kids get a good view of the circle of life if they start screwing up in the classroom.

        >BTW, tech toys and more specialists aren’t the answer either.

        Id agree with you. Frankly the best thing to do would be to drop the gadgets, fire the specialists and go find some really old teachers, those in their 80’s or 90’s by now. We need to go to them collectively on bended knee and say “gee, we thought rote learning, history and math were stupid, so we started teaching feelings and recycling and saying math was more how you felt about your answer than if the answer was correct, we were wrong, you were right, please come back and teach us how to teach.”

        I have a lot of sympathy for teachers. I think many honestly enter the system with their heart in the right place. I think after some time though the administration of our schools wears on them and where once you had a teacher eager to do a great job and make a difference you have someone who gives up after a few years in the system.

        I would think most teachers would welcome pay for performance. Teachers want to be thought of as professionals, pay for performance would be a great first step. Teachers union not fighting the solutions that do work – charter schools, vouchers and the like would also gain them respect.

        Right now all I see from teachers unions is fighting to close down the few things that do work, and jack my taxes. F them, and I mean that in the strongest possible sense of the letter F.

        • truthhurts

          “You name it, private schools, charter schools, home schooling, all outperform traditional public schools.”-hmmmmm? Sherwood has a 95% graduation rate and educates 5200 students on a 35 million dollar budget (or $6730 per kid) Tigard does it for $7300 per kid with the similar results. Jesuit does it for $15k per kid=your math sucks!

          “Easiest problem in the world. Expel the student. We do it in every other realm of life. Private schools certainly have that ability.”

          OBVIOUSLY you are not the sharpest knife in the drawer. Of course private (and now charter) schools “kick out’ troublesome under-performing students. Unfortunately for you and your “easiest problem in the world” solution, is those students go back to their home PUBLIC SCHOOL where state law requires that they still be educated at the expense of that public school.

          My favorite is the fact that Kevin Love got turned down by Jesuit. They can afford to take only the best. The best athletes and the best students with the best character. Of course it comes at a premium cost. And you think public schools who HAVE to take everyone are on a level playing field with that?

          Also you do understand that “Charter” schools are often staffed by regular ole PERS collecting public employees just like public schools?

          • .

            LulzPdx affirmed it right for once, is it the beginning or reconsigning of a new trend?

          • Truthhurts

            ??????

          • .

            LulzPdx seemingly espouses any sway, shape or of form of left wing Luna-crazy.

          • Jack Lord God

            >Tigard does it for $7300 per kid with the similar results. Jesuit does it for $15k per kid=your math sucks!

            You clearly do not know much on this issue if you are debating this point. Overall private schools are less expensive on a per pupil basis than public schools. They also give better results. If you are unaware of this best learn up on it.

            >OBVIOUSLY you are not the sharpest knife in the drawer.

            And obviously you are something of an idiot, since you didn’t bother to read what I said to do with the expelled kids.

            >And you think public schools who HAVE to take everyone are on a level playing field with that?

            Some time back the Catholic Archdiocese in NYC was accused of this very thing when their record was compared to the NYC public schools. The Catholics offered not only to take all comers, but invited NYC to pick the students they would take in order to send their worst. NYC quickly declined the offer obviously.

            Look – The central problem with trying to take the tack is that it is so easily defeated by pointing out it is the teachers unions that are the only ones maintaining this idea of taking everyone. Parents sure as hell seem to want choices, vouchers, charter schools etc. In other words – your argument here fails because it is ridiculously easy to point out you are arguing against something only your side supports.

            >Also you do understand that “Charter” schools are often staffed by
            regular ole PERS collecting public employees just like public schools?

            Please don’t try and condescend when you clearly are fairly uneducated on the issue. Of course I know that. Charter schools also get a fraction of the per pupil funds the balance going to the public school.

            Some advice – get a little more educated on this issue before jumping in with boiler plate answers.

            The dead giveaway here that you havent thought about this very much was trying the “public schools have to take everyone” line. That’s been asked and answered so long it’s totally 80’s

          • educator,admisistrator,consult

            “You clearly do not know much on this issue if you are debating this point. Overall private schools are less expensive on a per pupil basis than public schools. My first reaction was to ask “how f-ing stupid are you?” then I realized who I was talking to. I gave you some FACTS! Two examples: both verifiable with a minimum of intranet searching about the cost of public schools. Public schools get an average of about $7k per kid.

            Here, I copied directly from the Jesuit website so your lazy rump wouldn’t have to actually do anything.

            Tuition Information 2013-14

            Full Cost of Education$14,575

            Tuition Charged$11,975

            Per Student Deficit$2,600

            The ‘deficit’ is made up from private donors.

            Tigard get $7300 per student and a private school (Jesuit) gets $14k. Prove me wrong-or your an idiot.

            “Easiest problem in the world. Expel the student. We do it in every other realm of life. Private schools certainly have that ability. College ceretainly does as well. When you get a job, yep, you can be expelled from that as well. Why not do the same? Change the rules to allow it.”

            I read exactly what you said-you can’t just “change the rules”-IT’S THE LAW you j-off

            You didn’t give a single ‘FACT’ just uneducated BS

            “Please don’t try and condescend when you clearly are fairly uneducated on the issue. Of course I know that. Charter schools also get a fraction of the per pupil funds the balance going to the public school”.–AGAIN YOU ARE A DILROD!!!! Charter schools get 95% of the money the ‘home school’ get per students. The rest is keep by the home school for “administrative duties” Not a “FRACTION” like you claim. How do I know this? Because I’ve actually been involved in setting up a Charter school.!!!!!! Have you???? On what basis do claim to be at all knowledgeable about anything related to education!!!

          • .

            Does you acumen include effective speech delivery as eloquently demonstrated by #&* @%$! striking Sandy School teachers ?

          • >

            What???? Is Sandy SD striking? News to me.

          • Not Forgotten

            Sorry you missed out on the abominable cursing by an exemplary bunch of “Evil Yorkie” members of the Oregon Trail School District – idiots who didn’t cover their foul mouths with the sheepskins they dubiously earned from attending college, t’wits egregiously displaying their (X)rated-pertise attending their 2005 strike activity.

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