In early June, the U.S. Census Bureau issued a report on the state of public education finances in the United States. Among the reports many interesting charts and graphs is the tracking of per-student spending in elementary and secondary schools from 1992 to present. In all but one year, spending has increased, topping out at $10,705 per student. With a trend like that, most reasonable people would expect to see dramatic results reflected in student performance. Otherwise, what are we paying for?
Unfortunately, this is far from the case. While we continue to increase funding for schools, the chorus of voices decrying the deplorable state of public education in this country has only grown louder. Fear of falling behind in international assessments is driving politicians and pundits to ignore the actual evidence that throwing money at a problem rarely does much to solve it.