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Education: Spending, Transparency and Choice

Jason Bedrick, Cato Institute Milton Friedman Legacy Day, 2013

Question

How much does it cost, on average, to educate a child in an American public school?

National Per Pupil Expenditures


$16,000 $14,000 $12,000 $11,000 $14,000

$10,000
$8,000 $6,000 $4,250 $4,000 $2,000 $0

$2,000

PEPG Median

PEPG Average

NCES Operating

NCES Total

Source: Education Next PEPG Survey 2008; NCES Digest of Education Statistics 2011

Bonus Question

How much does it cost, on average, to educate a child in a public school in Connecticut?

$20,000

National vs. CT Per Pupil Expenditures


$17,500

$18,000
$16,000

$14,000
$12,000 $11,000

$14,000

$10,000
$8,000

$6,000
$4,000

$2,000
$0 NCES Operating
Source: NCES Digest of Education Statistics 2011;

NCES Total

CT Avg Total PPE

Inflation-Adjusted Cost of a Complete K-through-12 Public Education


$175,000 $150,000 $125,000 $100,000

2010: $164,426

Cato Institute
Charts the whole amount spent on the Kthrough-12 education of a student graduating in the given year.

1990: $102,098
$75,000 $50,000 $25,000 $0

1970: $56,903

Data sources Digest of Education Statistics 2011, Table 191, U.S. DOE, CPIadjusted to constant 2012 $. Missing values linearly interpolated or extrapolated.

Do you think government funding for public schools in your district should increase, decrease, or stay about the same?
100% 90% 80% 70% 60% 50% 40% 30% 20% 10% 0% Uninformed Informed
Source: Education Next PEPG Survey 2012, Complete Polling Results. Questions 7a & 7b.

Decrease

Stay Same
Increase

Do you think government funding for public schools in your district should increase, decrease, or stay about the same?
100% 90% 80% 70% 60% 50% 40% 30% 20% 10% 0% 9% 29% Decrease

Stay Same
63% Increase

Uninformed

Informed

Source: Education Next PEPG Survey 2012, Complete Polling Results. Questions 7a & 7b.

Do you think government funding for public schools in your district should increase, decrease, or stay about the same?
100% 90% 80% 70% 60% 50% 40% 30% 20% 10% 0% 9% 29% 44% Decrease 14%

Stay Same
63% 43% Increase

Uninformed

Informed

Source: Education Next PEPG Survey 2012, Complete Polling Results. Questions 7a & 7b.

Election 2012: Colorado


November 1, 2012: Colorados NBC-affiliate airs report on public school funding:

38 ballot initiatives to increase spending 31 districts $1.03 billion

Election 2012: Colorado


Colorado Department of Education: state pays $6,474 per pupil.

Election 2012: Colorado


No, the state pays about$10,000 per pupil.

Election 2012: Colorado


Oh, $10,000-a-year would be unimaginable for almost anybody in Colorado. It would be a nice problem to have, but it's not one we currently have.

Election 2012: Colorado

Election 2012: Colorado

Election 2012: Colorado


Like any good political debate, much of the issue will be addressed at the polls.

Election 2012: Colorado


Amount of state spending is the wrong question

Actual total per pupil expenditures: $12,181

Election 2012: Colorado


Election Results:

34 of 38 bond issues passed 29 of 31 districts $1.01 of $1.03 billion

Do you think government funding for public schools in your district should increase, decrease, or stay about the same?
100% 90% 80% 70% 60% 50% 40% 30% 20% 10% 0% 9% 29% 44% 14%

20 ballot initiatives passed with under 60% of the vote


Decrease Stay Same Increase

63% 43%

Uninformed

Informed

Source: Education Next PEPG Survey 2012, Complete Polling Results. Questions 7a & 7b.

49th Out of 50 in Per Pupil Spending!

Connecticuts Per Pupil Spending Rank


U.S. NCES NCES Census Total Operating NEA Education Week

#7 #6

#6

#7 #10

Equal Inputs Dont Imply Equal Outputs

What Were Up Against


State education departments report incomplete and misleading figures Activists use those figures to mislead The media are too lazy or incompetent to uncover and report the truth

Cracking the Books


Analyzed the financial transparency of all 50 state education departments Assigned AF grades for:
Completeness Timeliness Accessibility

Working with state-based think tanks and watchdog groups to promote nationwide

Cracking the Books


Misleading data:
24 states report only operating or current per pupil expenditures

Missing data:
8 states: missing capital expenditures 10 states: missing average employee salaries 41 states: missing average employee benefits

Connecticut

Connecticut
Operating per pupil expenditures Most recent data: 2009-10 No data provided for:
capital expenditures total salaries pensions employee benefits

Difficult website to navigate

Cracking the Books

Cracking the Books

Transparency & Choice


Robert F. Kennedy Community School, Los Angeles, built in 2010

Size: 452,000 square feet Amenities: Fine art murals, marble memorial, swimming pool, 19,000square-foot public park

Transparency & Choice


Robert F. Kennedy Community School, Los Angeles Cost: $578 million vs. $375 million for Staples Center Students: 4,200 Approx. $140,000 per student L.A. Unified School District: $640 million deficit Laid off 3,000 teachers in two years Among lowest graduation rates in nation Terrible test scores

Connecticut Private Schools


465 private schools 75,500+ students
Compared to 550,000+ public school students statewide

Average tuition nationwide: $8,550 (200708, NCES)


Compared to $17,500 per pupil in CT

Connecticut Private Schools


Tuition for all six non-special education private schools in Hartford:
$34,125 at Watkinson School
$17,000 average financial aid grant (36% on grants)

$3,600 (members $3,100) at Hartford Area Seventh Day Adventist School $3,600 at Saints Cyril & Methodius School

$1,800 average financial aid grant (90% on grants)

Tuition-free at Covenant Preparatory (60 students) Tuition not listed for St. Augustine School or Grace S. Webb School

School Choice in Connecticut


A well-designed school choice program could:
Save money Improve student performance Raise graduation rates and college matriculation Improve civic knowledge

Education: Spending, Transparency and Choice


Jason Bedrick Visiting Policy Analyst Center for Educational Freedom Cato Institute

Twitter: @CatoCEF @JasonBedrick