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School Funding Requests: Ah, the Monotony of It
By David W. Kirkpatrick (June 14, 2007)
Senior Education Fellow
U.S. Freedom Foundation www.freedomfoundation.us

         One of the consistencies of public education is the ongoing request for more money. Here are some reports and comments, beginning nearly 40 years ago, in 1969.  They speak for themselves:

         1969 - "Without...innovation new billions poured into the system will simply strengthen and confirm outworn policies." p. 71, John W. Gardner, No Easy Victories, NY: Harper Colophon Books, 1969

         1970 - Herbert J. Kiesling found "that for low socioeconomic status children the relationship between school expenditures and achievement was negative." p. 1968, Henry M. Levin in Roe L. Johns, et al, Economic Factors Affecting the Financing of Education, Gainesville, FL: National Educational Finance Project, v. 2

         1972 - "The idea that the public schools ever will be granted the funds they need is...a flight of unreality which, sadly, reflects on the ability of the beholder to reason properly." p. 229, Robert J. Braun, Teachers and Power, NY: Simon and Schuster.

         1972 - ‘...whereas our nation put only 3.1 percent of its Gross National Product in education in 1929, it now expends 7.6 per cent of a greatly increased GNP." Pennsylvania School Journal, September

         1985 - "There's a tradition in education that, if you spend a dollar and it doesn't work, you should spend two dollars; and not only that, you should give those two dollars to the same person who couldn't do the job with only one." p. 97, Frank Macchiarola (NYC school Chancellor, 1978-83), and Thomas Houser, For Our Children, NY Conintuum.

         1997 - "Between 1965 and 1994, school expenditures per pupil (in constant 1994 dollars) rose by 122 percent, a gain one-third higher than the overall rise in per capita personal income in the period. As a result, the pupil/teacher ratio in the public schools dropped by a third, from an average of over twenty-five students per teacher down to just seventeen per teacher." p. 351, Stephen & Abigail Thernstrom, America in Black and White, NY: Simon & Schuster.

         2002 - From the 9th edition of "Report Card on American Education: A State-by-State Analysis," from the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC):  "...of the 10 states that increased per-pupil expenditures the most over the past two decades, none ranked in the top 10 in academic achievement.  Additionally, of the top 10 that experienced the greatest decreases in pupil-to-teacher ratios over the past two decades, none ranked in the top 10 in academic achievement." Cal Thomas, "Our habit of spending lots, learning little," p. A6, Daily Local News, West Chester, PA, Oct. 18, 2002

         2003 - "A 2002 Standard & Poor's study found that in Pennsylvania, 60 percent of the state's high-scoring school districts had below-average education spending.  And conversely, about a third of school districts with higher spending had lower-than average scores.

         "In California, a new study by the Pacific Research Institute found that the state increased education spending by 29 percent over the past 10years (in inflation-adjusted terms), yet school children in the state rank near the bottom of performance." Christine Hall, CNSNews.com Staff Writer, "Higher Education Spending Defies Study Results," August 8.

         2004 - A Massachusetts study "implied that almost every district in the state–even the wealthiest–was underfunded, with an average shortfall of 66 percent. Ironically, the only sizeable district judged to be spending enough was Cambridge, where student performance has been persistently low." pp 27-8, James Peyser & Robert Castrell, "exploring the costs of accountability," p 22-29, Education Next, Spring 2004

         2005 - ALEC's 11th annual report: "...although per-student spending has gone up nationwide by 53% in the past two decades, 73% of public school students in eighth grade taking the National Assessment of Education Progress math exam in 2003 performed below the level of proficiency."

         2006 - "there is no significant correlation between the percentage of its budget that a school district spends on instruction and scores on state reading and math tests, concludes the most recent analysis by SchoolMatters, a service of Standard & Poor's." Robert C. Johnson, "Ratio Spent on Classrooms Not Tied to Scores, Study Says," p. 20, Education Week, March 1, 2006

         How is it that those most responsible for teaching seem most incapable of learning?

         They might also be regarded as living examples of the definition that one form of insanity consists of repeatedly doing the same thing and expecting different results.

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         To adapt a phrase by President John F. Kennedy, the public school establishment is prepared to have the general public "pay any price and bear any burden" rather than change the way schools function.  - DWK

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Copyright 2007 David W. Kirkpatrick
108 Highland Court,
Douglassville, Pennsylvania 19518-9240
Phone: (610) 689-0633

E-mail (tchrwrtr@aol.com)

To use this material, see the conditions at the top of the home page - DWK