The DebateMuch of the national debate focuses on how best to make changes to our system of public education. How much should we rely on market forces and parental choice to drive improvement? Should we replace much of the traditional framework with privately run charter schools or by giving public funding directly to each parent in the form of vouchers? Unfortunately, little attention is being paid to how much we spend on education, and what it costs to provide the education we wish for our children.
The Actual Cost of EducationA Rutgers University study, The Real Shame of the Nation: The Causes and Consequences of Interstate Inequity in Public School Investments, reports the following:
- It can cost anywhere between $5,000 and $30,000 a year per student in order to hit average test scores.
- It costs more than three times the amount per pupil ($20k to $30k) to achieve national average outcome goals in very high poverty districts as it does in relatively low poverty districts ($5k to $10k).
- High-poverty school districts in several states fall thousands to tens of thousands of dollars short, per pupil, of funding required to reach the relatively modest goal of current national average student performance outcomes on standardized assessments. In some states—notably Arizona, Mississippi, Alabama and California—the highest poverty school districts fall as much as $14,000 to $16,000 per pupil below necessary spending levels.