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US Has Spent Boatloads Of Taxpayer Money On Education — But Students’ Test Scores Are



The public schools in the state of New York doled out $29,284 per pupil in “current expenditures” in fiscal year 2022, said a report published this week by the Department of Education’s National Center for Education Statistics.

“Current expenditures comprise expenditures for the day-to-day operation of schools and school districts for public elementary and secondary education, including expenditures for staff salaries and benefits, supplies, and purchased services,” according to NCES.

“General administration expenditures and school administration expenditures are also included in current expenditures,” it says.

The $29,284 that New York spent per pupil on these items was more than any other state. So, what did taxpayers get in return for this investment?

Not much.

In the 2022 National Assessment of Educational Progress mathematics test, only 28% of the eighth graders in New York public schools scored proficient or better. Only 32% scored proficient or better in reading.

In our capital city of Washington, D.C., which the NCES listed among the states, the public schools had $28,128 in “current expenditures” per pupil. That was more than any state except New York.

So, how did the students do in the Washington public schools? Only 16% of Washington public-school eighth graders scored proficient or better in math. Only 22% scored proficient or better in reading.

After Washington, New Jersey had the next highest level of per-pupil spending in its public schools in fiscal 2022. In that state, it was $25,550.

The students there scored a little better in reading and math than those in New York or the District of Columbia. But they did not do great. Only 33% of New Jersey eighth graders were proficient or better in math, while 42% were proficient or better in reading.

Vermont, the state that Sen. Bernie Sanders represents, finished slightly behind New Jersey in per-pupil spending in its public schools. It spent $25,073.

It also finished behind New Jersey in its NAEP test scores. Only 27% of the eighth graders in Vermont public schools scored proficient or better in math, and only 34% scored proficient or better in reading.

Connecticut, another New England state, came in fifth — behind New York, the District of Columbia, New Jersey and Vermont — in per-pupil spending. It spent $23,868 per student. Only 30% of its eighth graders scored proficient or better in math, and only 35% scored proficient in reading.

It was followed by three other New England states when the 50 states are ranked by per-pupil spending. Massachusetts spent $22,778; Rhode Island spent $20,498; and New Hampshire spent $20,424.

Yet only 35% of the eighth graders in Massachusetts public schools scored proficient or better in math; and only 40% scored proficient or better in reading. In Rhode Island, only 24% of eighth graders scored proficient or better in math; and only 31% scored proficient or better in reading. In New Hampshire, only 29% scored proficient or better in math; and only 33% scored proficient or better in reading.

Did the results significantly improve if a state spent less money per pupil in its public schools? No.

Utah spent $9,496 per pupil in its public schools in fiscal 2022. That was less than any other state. Only 35% of its eighth graders scored proficient or better in math, and only 36% scored proficient or better in reading.

Similarly, Idaho finished next to last in per-pupil spending in its public schools, putting up $9,662. Only 32% of its eighth graders scored proficient or better in math, and 32% scored proficient or better in reading.

As this column has noted before, students at Catholic schools score better on these NAEP tests than students at public schools. In 2022, Catholic-school eighth graders had an average score of 288 on the math test, while public-school eighth graders had an average score of 273. Similarly, Catholic-school eighth graders had an average score of 279 on the reading test, while public-school eighth graders had an average score of 259.

The average tuition at Catholic elementary schools in 2023, according to U.S. News and World Report, was $4,840. The average tuition at Catholic high schools was $11,240.

In the upcoming school year, DeMatha Catholic High School — on the outskirts of Washington, D.C. — will have a tuition of $22,700, according to its website. That is $5,428 less than the $28,128 the District of Columbia public schools spent per pupil in 2022.

Parents in the District of Columbia and every other community in this country should not be forced to send their child to government-run schools. All parents should be given a voucher equal to the per-pupil expenditures in the local public schools and be free to redeem that voucher at any school — public or private, religious or secular — that they choose.

Terence P. Jeffrey is the investigative editor of the Daily Caller News Foundation. To find out more about Terence P. Jeffrey and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate website at www.creators.com.

The views and opinions expressed in this commentary are those of the author and do not reflect the official position of the Daily Caller News Foundation.

 

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