Education Spending



Will writes from Washington, D.C. (well, Arlington, Virginia). You can reach him at willblogcorrespondence at gmail dot com.

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10 Responses

  1. Avatar greginak says:

    Interesting up to a point. Most ed spending is state based, it would be interesting to see that in the chart. I believe, although i reserve the right to be wrong and i will check this tomorrow at work, there are ed programs to help homeless kids that are funded by the feds. and those programs kick butt but would not have a big enough affect to show up on that chart.

    There are some good comments on his post at his site. He doesn’t show actual dollars so it is impossible to know how much money this is and what percentage of real spending it is. Also it doesn’t say what the money is spent on. If it goes to school lunches, it does a world of good without having much affect on scores. Ditto for head start spending if that is included in his numbers. Head Start is a great program but wouldn’t likely have a huge affect on the numbers he presents.

    I’m not sure it shows as much as partisans want it to show , but that doesn’t change the need for some change in how we ed kids.Report

  2. Avatar Michael Drew says:

    Perhaps the percentage numbers on the left side of the chart just need a few more zeroes tacked on. Seriously.Report

  3. Avatar Freddie says:

    Why, it’s almost as if there are certain realities about student achievement that are beyond our capacity to change. But to a man with only a hammer…..Report

    • Avatar Freddie in reply to Freddie says:

      Ugh, the chart abuse here is unbelievable.

      ” It mixes factors on a single scale that have no business being represented on a single scale.

      Namely, federal spending is only around a tenth (roughly – I’m having trouble putting my hands on good data this morning) of total education spending, so a 100% change in federal input would yield only a 10% change in total spending. The graph makes those changes look far more dramatic than they really are.

      Conversely, as the previous example showed, a 5% change in raw scores could easily represent the difference between class cohorts, which is fairly dramatic. The result is that a 10% increase in education spending is made to look 20 times larger than a class-grade improvement in test results would. I can’t see that as a fair way to present data.”Report

      • Avatar Freddie in reply to Freddie says:

        Incidentally, what that chart lacks, and what it desperately needs, is to present how much of that increase is due to special education, which is massively expensive and has gone through a revolution in funding in the last several decades.Report

      • Avatar Mark Thompson in reply to Freddie says:

        I agree that the graph is lacking and doesn’t make much of a case to demonstrate the lack of correlation between spending and outcomes (although it does seem to reinforce the notion that NCLB, which is the clear source of the huge increase in the last few years, has been a failure).

        I wonder, though, whether maybe it does make at least something of a case against increased federal involvement in education.Report

        • Avatar Freddie in reply to Mark Thompson says:

          What I really wonder is how much of that money is going to special education, which is funded federally at a far higher rate than regular education, which is primarily locally funded. I’d like to know that before I could really say what the consequences of that kind of information is.Report

  4. Avatar Jaybird says:

    I suspect that, over the last few decades, there have been more requirements for certain kinds of paperwork and record-keeping, which require certain kinds of training and expertise, which would require certain kinds of hiring. The money coming from the feds probably didn’t go to education at all (special or otherwise). It probably went to pay for hours (and eventually positions) that just didn’t exist in years past.

    That’s probably not true for all of the money, but I’d wager it’s true for a plurality of it.Report

  5. Avatar Kyle says:

    My 2 cents: most of the criticism are on point.

    Federal spending makes up between 8-10% of school funding nationwide. That percentage tends to increase in urban districts which rely more on federal grants for particular programs and other funding obligations. Federal spending has risen but so has state funding, as a reference point, when I looked at the data in spring of 08, we were on track to pass half a trillion dollars/yr on public education funding.

    The whole picture is complicated. gregniak mentions Head Start (a program with mixed reviews) whose funding comes out of HHS so it’s usually not counted as spending on public education, though it does effect scores. I would doubt that chart includes HS.

    So, I’m with Freddie here when he says, “It mixes factors on a single scale that have no business being represented on a single scale.” In particular, his point about the cost and spending for special education is important (and surprisingly overlooked).

    Where I get off the, “this is useless train” is that for all the flaws with the graph, if the overall point is that more money doesn’t equal better scores, then he’s right. The spectrum spanning consensus that throwing money at schools isn’t effective isn’t new.Report