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    More Money Flows into the Bottomless Education Pit

    By Larry Sand

    Schools have more cash than they know what to do with, but it will not help student achievement.

    Spurred by the Covid panic, schools have been the recipient of ungodly sums of money. And it’s not as if the beast was starving before. To put things into perspective, the U.S. spends about $800 billion on national defense, more than China, Russia, India, the U.K., France, Saudi Arabia, Germany and Japan combined, according to the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute. But America now spends even more on k-12 education, with an outlay of about $900 billion dollars a year, which includes an additional $122 billion from the Covid-related American Rescue Plan. While we have a military that is second to none, our education spending does not lead to a similar result. Our annual education outlay is second highest in the world, trailing only Norway. But in achievement, we are in the middle of the pack. For example, the 2018 rankings by the Programme for International Student Assessment, or PISA, has the U.S. 36th out of the 79 countries that participated in the math test, which is given to 15-year-olds.

    So where does all this money go?

    Not much for the kids. In fact, over 80% of it goes to salaries and benefits for teachers and other employees.

    Maybe the money will help alleviate the teacher shortage?

    Hardly. The teacher shortage writ large is non-existent. Using data from a National Education Association report, Mike Antonucci writes that  there were 48,985,186 students enrolled in the nation’s public school system in 2021, about 256,000 fewer than in 2012. But school districts hired an additional 276,000 instructional staff during the same period. He adds that student enrollment fell 2.4 percent in the U.S. from fall 2019 to fall 2020, falling in every state and the District of Columbia, yet 17 states added teachers.

    Maybe if we spend even more, it will equate to more student achievement?

    Again, negative. In fact, there is no correlation between money spent and student proficiency whatsoever, and history bears this out. Using inflation-adjusted figures, we have increased our education spending over 17-fold in the last century. While there is no available data that tracks student performance for the early part of that time frame, the Cato Institute’s Andrew Coulson reported in 2012 that we tripled our spending between 1970 and 2010, and had absolutely no academic progress to show for it. Looking at more up-to-date data, even though spending rose, the average NAEP scores in math for Black and Hispanic students, and male and female 13-year-old students were lower in 2020 compared to 2012.

    But shouldn’t teachers be paid more?

    One other lie that has been told so many times that it is believed by many is that teachers are underpaid. Most recently, Randi Weingarten, president of the American Federation of Teachers came out with one of her typical statements that has no bearing in reality. In an interview, she asserted, “You have a hot labor market where teachers can get 20% more for the skills and knowledge they have teaching in non-teaching jobs.”

    But according to Just Facts, in the 2020–21 school year, the average school teacher made $65,090 in salary, and received another $33,048 in benefits (such as health insurance, paid leave, and pensions) for $98,138 in total compensation.

    To continue reading, go to https://www.forkidsandcountry.org/blog/the-sandstorm-more-money-flows-into-the-bottomless-education-pit

     

     

    The views and opinions expressed in this commentary are those of the author and do not reflect the official position of Citizens Journal


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