Texas Now Just Fifth to Last In Per-Student Education Spending

EducationFlickr.jpg
Elgin County Archives
Once upon a time, when public schools could afford art.
The Texas legislature's decision to cut $5.4 billion from the public education budget three years ago had some rather predictable consequences: fewer teachers, larger class sizes and a sizable drop in the telling funding-per-pupil metric. Texas promptly dropped to 49th on the latter metric among states and Washington, D.C.

This past legislative session restored some $3.4 billion to public schools, which lawyers for the state touted as proof that Texas' school finance system is not in fact broken and shouldn't be interfered with by the courts.

Whether Austin District Judge William Dietz buys that argument will become clear in May, when he's expected to rule in an enormous school-finance lawsuit. For now, we can only marvel at the gains the legislature's partial funding restoration has brought about.

No longer is Texas 49th in per-pupil education funding. With $8,998 spent per student, it is now 46th, according to an annual ranking recently published by the National Education Association, increasing its lead on cellar-dwelling Arizona and Nevada and surging ahead of public-education powerhouses North Carolina, Oklahoma and Utah.

Granted, that's still less than the national average of $11,674 and the $9,446 it was spending before 2011's draconian cuts, but money isn't everything. Besides: progress.

(h/t The Dallas Morning News)

Send your story tips to the author, Eric Nicholson.

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44 comments
aaptoinn01
aaptoinn01

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ThePosterFormerlyKnownasPaul
ThePosterFormerlyKnownasPaul topcommenter

There is no correlation between per capita student spending and student achievement in publicly funded schools.


It takes three things for student success a motivated teacher, a motivated student and motivated parents.

BobLowlaw
BobLowlaw

I have two kids at DISD.  The schools are old, but well maintained and clean. The staffing seems sufficient and I can't remember seeing anyone who wasn't competent.  There doesn't seem to be any particular shortage of supplies or books.  It is at least possible that the other states are wasting money.

GoingBoeing
GoingBoeing

As the study shows, D.C. far and away leads the pack in terms of expenditures per student. And the outcome of all that spending is? 

<waits>

<waits>

<waits>

I thought so... crickets.


When, at long last, Big Ed bureaucrats and their allies at the NEA can show the link that turns more dollars into more diplomas, something they have failed, to date, to demonstrate, taxpayers will happily open their wallets wider.


Until then, private and home schools, which typically spend far less per pupil than public schools in the same city, will continue to thrive.

RTGolden1
RTGolden1 topcommenter

Measuring per student expenditures by the state on education is useless.  I believe the numbers would include condemned $50 million football stadiums, and field trips for 5,000 (boys only) students to go see the movie 'Red Tails' or whatever it was.

No what counts is how much we spend per student on educating.  Actual dollars spent pouring, cramming, coaxing or bribing knowledge into their little brains.  That is what counts and that is where US school systems fail.  Miserably.

TheRuddSki
TheRuddSki topcommenter

Texas has one advantage. All the negatives posted here that show what a miserable place Texas is are unavailable to prospective residents and businesses looking to relocate. If any of these stats ever got out, no-one would even consider coming here.

I just wonder how it's done.

becoolerifyoudid
becoolerifyoudid

What, teachers get a fifth of whiskey per student they teach.  Seems a little low, but hopefully the teachers make it through the year.


Myrna.Minkoff-Katz
Myrna.Minkoff-Katz topcommenter

Another interesting stat is Texas ranks #5 in property tax revenue.  Yet, the state is spending meager amounts of money on the health, education, and welfare of its citizens (compared to the rest of the nation).


As for state sales tax rate, we rank #11

Sotiredofitall
Sotiredofitall topcommenter

Oh it it was all just so simple - 

"The $29,409 per-student educational price tag for D.C. schools is just slightly below two of the area's most prestigious private schools - Georgetown Prep ($29,625), founded in 1789 as the nation's oldest Jesuit school, and Sidwell Friends School ($33,000), the "school of choice" for President Obama's daughters."

"However, Atlanta gets slightly better test scores with slightly poorer students at 60 percent of the cost of DCPS and Cleveland does about the same with slightly less poor students at 68 percent of the cost."

Myrna.Minkoff-Katz
Myrna.Minkoff-Katz topcommenter

Here's an interesting stat: Texas ranks 47th out of the 50 states in per capita general expenditures of state governments for all functions.  Just $4,071


TheRuddSki
TheRuddSki topcommenter

No biggie, none of them will be able to afford college anyway.

PlanoDave
PlanoDave

Studies like this just reinforce the purpose of public education:  obtaining funding via taxation.

whocareswhatithink
whocareswhatithink

Like all school students, no matter where we come in, we still get a medal now a days

everlastingphelps
everlastingphelps topcommenter

Why does it matter how much we are spending?  Isn't the result more important?


There is virtually no correlation between increased spending and better outcomes for students.  Sure, there is a "not enough" break point, but every state is well, well above that point in spending.  


The NEA doesn't measure the outcomes, because the NEA doesn't give a shit about outcomes.  The last thing the NEA cares about is students.  The NEA is a labor union for teachers.  All they care about is hiring more teachers, for more pay, whether we need them or not.  The NEA would be happy if every child got their own individual (dues paying) teacher, who makes $100K a year, even if that teacher is a crack addicted sex offender who spent all day teaching the student how to make better crack pipes.

oakclifftownie
oakclifftownie

In Texas Lower taxes mean Lower Spending . At least I thought  that was the idea. I am sure our new Governor Greg Abbott and Lt Governor Dan  Patrick will be happy to cooperate with a Judges ruling that might mean raising taxes.

Okay they will be screaming the Judge is legislating from the bench .

I have a feeling school boards will be in for some more belt tightening.

Political theater isn't it great?

Myrna.Minkoff-Katz
Myrna.Minkoff-Katz topcommenter

Spending on education by the state was down 6.4% in 2013 compared to 2012, according to texastransparency.org

bvckvs
bvckvs topcommenter

@BobLowlaw

... yet.  The effects of declining investment are only beginning to be seen.  It takes about 12 years for the full force of underinvestment to manifest itself.

It's like when a doctor tells his patient with high cholesterol to stop drinking bacon grease, and the patient says, "Why?  I'm not sick *yet*?".

Threeboys
Threeboys

I get what you're saying but the $60 million Allen stadium was a bond issue, not state school funds.

Guesty
Guesty

@Myrna.Minkoff-Katz  Yes, but we have no income tax, which has gutted our ability to provide public services like public education.  


I get taxed 3% on a home that cost 2.5 times my family's annual income, which probably is conservative for most of the middle and upper middle class.  CEOs that make tens of millions of dollars get taxed 3% on homes that cost only a fraction of their annual income (it's hard to spend more than half of an income of $10 million on a home in Dallas). It's no wonder the rich prefer property taxes over income taxes: they do much better while the middle and upper-middle class do far worse.  It's a terribly imbalanced system of taxation.    

becoolerifyoudid
becoolerifyoudid

@Sotiredofitall Remember the public school districts have special education departments which will have a high per student cost.  The private schools probably do not have the same requirement. 

Guesty
Guesty

@Sotiredofitall  Simple it is not.  


But it is worth noting that the best private schools receive far more revenue than just tuition.  Most have substantial endowments, large gifts each year, demand constant fund raising from parents, and in the case of Jesuit schools, benefit from financial support from the church.  


It's also worth noting that the cost of doing anything in DC is far more expensive than Atlanta.  There is no reason to expect schools would be immune from the cost differences.  

PlanoDave
PlanoDave

@Myrna.Minkoff-Katz You are reading the graph upside down.  We are 4th best at managing the money we appropriate from our citizens.

Myrna.Minkoff-Katz
Myrna.Minkoff-Katz topcommenter

Per capita expenditures of state & local governments for:


Public Welfare:            #47

Health & Hospitals:      #50

Highways:                    #23

Police & Fire:               #32


Per capita income:      #26


I'll bet the house that Rick Perry never mentions these stats when he blunders into other states to try to get companies to relocate to Texas.

TheRuddSki
TheRuddSki topcommenter

@Myrna

That's a feature, not a bug.

Myrna.Minkoff-Katz
Myrna.Minkoff-Katz topcommenter

@everlastingphelps  No one would seriously believe that the NEA "would be happy if every child got their own individual (dues paying) teacher, who makes $100K a year, even if that teacher is a crack addicted sex offender who spent all day teaching the student how to make better crack pipes"........ except, of course, you.

BobLowlaw
BobLowlaw

@bvckvs @BobLowlaw  Maybe.  But I went to all white suburban schools during the 70s and 80s.  I'd say my kids are a full grade ahead of where I was and they work much harder than I ever did.  And I don't think it's just my kids.  Economics tells us there is diminishing utility to spending more-and-more; at some point, the funding is "good enough." 


And we shouldn't forget that, just because other states spend more, doesn't necessarily mean that money is going to the kids.  Many states seem to have bad agreements with their teachers,--for instance, all of the extra money could be going to pay for under-funded pensions for retired teachers.  I don't think we should spend more just because "the number seems low."

ThePosterFormerlyKnownasPaul
ThePosterFormerlyKnownasPaul topcommenter

@Threeboys  

The bonds for the stadium were sold by AISD and are repaid by the ad valorem taxes that AISD levies.  Therefore, it is not $60 million that is spent on education.

I wonder if the Chess Team ever got their cardtable fixed?

RTGolden1
RTGolden1 topcommenter

@Threeboys Is the bond also where the funding for the sports programs that use the stadium comes from? How about the media box, the wireless communications on the sidelines, the 3,4,5 or more coaches and trainers the teams need?  The point is, spending 'on education' includes a lot more than spending 'on educating'.

bvckvs
bvckvs topcommenter

@Threeboys It all comes from the same source - taxpayers.  The belief that bonds issues don't burden taxpayers is shortsighted and misleading.

Sotiredofitall
Sotiredofitall topcommenter

@becoolerifyoudid  Nice try "However, Atlanta gets slightly better test scores with slightly poorer students at 60 percent of the cost of DCPS and Cleveland does about the same with slightly less poor students at 68 percent of the cost."

Sotiredofitall
Sotiredofitall topcommenter

@Guesty Not opposed to increased spending on education, just want it done in an effective manner.  Just throwing money does not solve the problem

TheRuddSki
TheRuddSki topcommenter

@PlanoDave

Texas is going to have a hard time attracting the socialist demographic, that's why these figures are presented as a negative.

TheRuddSki
TheRuddSki topcommenter

@Myrna

How is Texas going to afford all the new students that the amnesty you champion will bring in?

Biglar
Biglar

@Myrna.Minkoff-Katz  No, I'm sure all other things being equal, the NEA would also prefer that kids get an education.  However, they aren't about to make any sacrifices of their dues-paying members, no matter how incompetent, to help make that happen.  And they sure aren't going to allow any non-union charter school alternatives to arise, no matter how much better those alternatives may perform than the government schools.

bvckvs
bvckvs topcommenter

@BobLowlaw @bvckvs

I have several comments on your logic, here.

For one - you're applying anecdotal evidence, instead of looking at the whole of the district.  That's a fine way of judging one school, but a lousy way of judging a school district of over 200 schools.

For another, Dallas ISD's pension is funded just fine.  Again, your concern is based on a statistical falsity - saying that since other states have pension problems, we might be having one, too.  In truth, everyone's getting what they bargained for and no one is raising a stink for more,  It's managed by a third party, not the district, and the teachers decide how their individual pensions are invested.

Finally, your concern is that we want to spend more per student is because "the numbers seem low", but that's not why.  In truth, we want to spend more because we want our kids to be as well-educated as possible.

becoolerifyoudid
becoolerifyoudid

@Sotiredofitall @becoolerifyoudid I don't think I was contradicting you.  If you factor out special education spending the per student spending drops even lower.  So the DC school district would be spending significantly less per student than the two private schools and the Atlanta and Cleveland districts even less. 

And since many sped students are exempt from standardized testing, the funding for sped would not impact test scores. I am not advocating for lowering sped funding, just noting the whole lies, damn lies, and statistics thing which Nicholson tends to not grasp. 

Guesty
Guesty

@PlanoDave @Myrna.Minkoff-Katz  Renters effectively pay higher property tax rates because property taxes are built into the rental rate and property taxes on rentals do not benefit from homestead exemptions.  

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