Education and Tax Money : More Money Does Not Necessarily Mean More Graduates

The current state of our economy and what seems like an endless amount of government hands in our pockets on an increasing scale has prompted me to write this post. In conjunction with the obvious problems on a national scale my local school district is joining with the state to propose a state amendment that would prohibit the state from taking money from education.

In an economic downturn that means that the rest of the state suffers, but education is ok. I have to ask my self “Really,? Is education more important than say Highway Patrol? or Transportation? or Water/Sewer Maintenance? or Commerce?” Do we really think that when times are tough that everything else is second to Education? So, I wanted to take one slice of the premise for the amendment and dissect it a little further. It is the contention of many in power today that more money equals more high school graduates. Having more high school graduates is supposed to equal more success in the market and more business, etc.

The question for me is “Does more money equal more graduates?” To answer the question, I didn’t have to look very far. In fact with some help from the U.S. Census Bureau and the pro everything education EdWeek.org I was able to see quite clearly that simply putting more money into the system will not necessarily produce more graduations. That’s right, it is terribly difficult to find ANY report that lists costs per student next to graduation rates for a simply, flat comparison. So, I made one.

The following report lists the graduation rates for each state in 2006 and the U.S. Census data of spending for US elementary and Secondary schools during the 2006-2007 fiscal year.

PerStudentCompare

You may notice something that became very clear to me. Initially, it looked as if what had been said was true. Of the schools performing under the average (less than average graduation rates) 72% had under spent the average and only 28% had over spent. Right out of the box this would be a great case for spending more to get more.

However, upon further looking, I found that of the schools that over performed compared to the average 58% had under spent, leaving 42% as the over spenders. In case you missed it, let me rephrase. Out of 51 states (including DC, I know it is not a state) 19 of them spent under the average and out performed the average graduation rate; while 13 under spent and under performed.

Clearly there is not a direct correlation between spending (i.e. Money) and results (i.e. Graduates) and so like most things in life it is more complex than a cursory glance would suggest.

I know that this will not be popular with the NEA leadership. I know that someone will say the teachers in the under spend out perform bracket are low balling tests and thus getting more results; or just passing bad students.

If that were so, why is it such a small percent of the majority that are over spending and getting over average results? Wouldn’t the teachers want to hold back the kids to the numbers would play out in their favor? I think the teachers are trying and are not short changing to get more money or pass more students.

What it all boils down to is this simple fact; more money does not necessarily equal more graduations. In the coming months, many school districts will call for more money, as they have done annually for nearly a hundred years. In this time of economic hardship, let’s stop using children as political capital and start taking real-factual consideration of the situation and be able to say no, not this year. We need more graduations, and that will not come from more money each and every year.

The answer to getting more graduations is a long and complex set of discussions; so for now, I am saying enough is enough.

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