Education Secretary Betsy DeVos argued in April 2018 that additional money isn't the best way to improve public schools. She uploaded a graph on Twitter that highlighted how school funding has risen dramatically in the previous 30 years while student test scores have barely changed. DeVos tweeted that poor academic performance "is not something we're going to pay our way out of." (ic)
Where does that leave us?
More than a dozen scholarly studies have refuted the idea that money has no bearing on education, but it's more difficult to explain why DeVos' basic, easy-to-understand rationale can be misleading. In light of the coronavirus pandemic.
Education finance specialists explained to journalists back in July 2020, how schools around the country will face significant financial cuts this year. Tax collections will soon shrink when businesses shut or close entirely. According to the Education Commission of the States, a non-profit policy group, states have already announced a 15 percent cut to their entire budgets. Because education is the most expensive item in almost every state's budget, the announced cuts are now affecting schools. In the fall, a second wave of severe cuts is expected.
Sure there are companies like ABC Fundraising, Donorbox, Snowball Fundraising & Fundraising Zone that do school fundraisers. But why should we have force parents to buy cookie dough or popcorn?
Superintendents and principals will have to find methods to cut costs after they've made their purchases and hired their instructors for the school year, at a time when schools require more funding for masks, disinfectants, janitors, and remote learning technologies. “It's bad, and it has the potential to be worse,” Michael Griffith said. Michael is an analyst at the Education Commission of the States, and commented on this during a session of the Education Writers Association’s national seminar.
The last time schools had to cut expenditures was during the Great Recession of 2008. A team of three economists led by Kirabo Jackson of Northwestern University showed that student achievement declined in proportion to the amount of money dropped in the summer 2020 issue of Education Next. They found that following the 2008 recession, a $1,000 cut in per-pupil spending dropped reading and math test scores by 1.6 percentile points and college attendance by 2.6 percent.
After the 2008 recession, average spending declined by less than $1,000 throughout the country. (According to my calculations, the drop was around $860 per student over three years.) However, because education is dispersed throughout over 12,000 school districts, some schools have seen far higher per-pupil reductions than others.
School districts that rely on state revenues rather than local property taxes were impacted the most, according to Jackson's team of economists. Children in Washington, Arkansas, and Minnesota, for example, had lower test results than students in Illinois, Pennsylvania, and Connecticut. Richer municipalities were able to compensate for state funding decreases by tapping into reserves, raising taxes, or imposing fees. Budget cuts in the state caused achievement gaps to widen for both low-income and minority students. According to the economists, a $1,000 drop in expenditures increased the disparity in test results between Black and white kids by 6%.
School finance specialists discussed why low-income children were impacted more by the 2008 school funding cuts in a July briefing to education journalists. Layoffs must usually begin with the most recently employed instructors, preserving seasoned teachers with more seniority, according to teacher union contracts. In poorer schools, where situations are more difficult, there are more younger instructors and students. Because poor schools have more junior instructors and fewer veterans, low-income neighborhoods experienced the brunt of the teacher layoffs.
Of course, layoffs are a last resort for school administrators. They began by eliminating extracurricular programs such as summer school, after-school programs, and supplemental reading. In other words, low-income children's programs were eliminated, according to Griffith. Transportation was another area where savings were made. Those programs and transportation services continued to charge families fees in affluent regions, costs that low-income families couldn't afford.
Griffith continues, “The great recession impacted all student learning but it particularly impacted low- income and minority student learning.”
For decades, academics have debated the value of money in education. In school bureaucracies, it's also easy to uncover examples of waste and mismanagement. Money might, of course, be spent more wisely. It's also conceivable to locate a school district that teaches its students more for less money than the district next door.
Academics have argued the worth of money in education for decades. It's also easy to find examples of waste and mismanagement in school bureaucracy. Of sure, money could be spent more wisely. It's also possible to find a school district that provides greater education for less money than the one next door.