What kind of education could you provide for your child with a $10,053, $19,538 or even a $28,170 voucher? Sound ridiculous? Sadly, these are the actual or true state costs of education.
In this video Cato Education Analyst Adam B. Schaeffer explains that the nation’s five largest metro areas and the District of Columbia are blurring the numbers on education costs. On average, per-pupil spending in these areas is 44 percent higher than officially reported. Districts on average spent nearly $18,000 per student and yet claimed to spend just $12,500 last year. It is impossible to have a public debate about education policy if public schools can’t be straight forward about their spending.
Click Here to read a 14 page policy analysis by Adam B. Schaeffer Published on March 10, 2010 titled “They Spend WHAT? The Real Cost of Public Schools.” Adam B. Schaeffer is a policy analyst with Cato’s Center for Educational Freedom. It’s a real eye opener and easy to read. Below is the Executive Summary.
Although public schools are usually the biggest item in state and local budgets, spending figures provided by public school officials and reported in the media often leave out major costs of education and thus understate what is actually spent. To document the phenomenon, this paper reviews district budgets and state records for the nation’s five largest metro areas and the District of Columbia. It reveals that, on average, per-pupil spending in these areas is 44 percent higher than officially reported. Real spending per pupil ranges from a low of nearly $12,000 in the Phoenix area schools to a high of nearly $27,000 in the New York metro area. The gap between real and reported per-pupil spending ranges from a low of 23 percent in the Chicago area to a high of 90 percent in the Los Angeles metro region.
To put public school spending in perspective, we compare it to estimated total expenditures in local private schools. We find that, in the areas studied, public schools are spending 93 percent more than the estimated median private school. Citizens drastically underestimate current per-student spending and are misled by official figures. Taxpayers cannot make informed decisions about public school funding unless they know how much districts currently spend. And with state budgets stretched thin, it is more crucial than ever to carefully allocate every tax dollar. This paper therefore presents model legislation that would bring transparency to school district budgets and enable citizens and legislatorsto hold the K–12 public education system accountable.