The School Funding Fraud

Published February 20, 2024
education spending

The insatiable greed of the educational establishment is never-ending.

Politico reports that billions of dollars in federal pandemic relief aid to schools is running dry.The money must be spent by September, and there is “urgent concern over how schools might get burned when the money’s gone, as the process to request extensions to looming spending deadlines heats up in the coming months.”

Schools might be burned?!

We are led to believe that the cheapskate American taxpayers are not forking over enough cash to the government school monopoly. But the data tell a very different story.

According to the invaluable Just Facts, which is dedicated to researching and publishing verifiable data about the critical public policy issues of our time, the U.S. spent $1.2 trillion on education in 2022. The bulk of the spending, $834 billion, goes to elementary and secondary education, while $226 billion is spent on higher education, and $121 billion goes to libraries and other forms of education.

This total breaks down to $8,993 for every household in the U.S., 4.6% of the U.S. gross domestic product, and 14% of the government’s current expenditures. It’s important to note that these figures don’t include land purchases for schools and other facilities, as well as some of the costs of durable items like buildings and computers. The unfunded liabilities of post-employment non-pension benefits (like health insurance) are also not included.

Unimpressed by any such data, California Teacher Association president David Goldberg bellyached in early February that California has suffered through “decades of deliberate disinvestment in public schools.” The union boss added, “This erratic system of starved school budgets during economic boom years mustn’t continue. We need to find lasting solutions to California’s broken budget system.”

We are led to believe that Golden State legislators are siphoning money from cash-poor schools. However, the Public Policy Institute of California discloses that school spending per pupil is roughly 65% higher than a decade ago in the Golden State. In 2021, the state allotted $22,684 per student, compared to $14,245 in 2012–13. This amount doesn’t include federal monies, which brings the total to almost $24,000. So, a class of 25 students costs taxpayers about $600,000.

The money grabbers’ basic assumption (or at least their selling point) is that spending more equates to better education results. Sadly, so many people buy into this myth and have done so for many years. In 2008, Dan Lips, then senior policy analyst at the Heritage Foundation, wrote, “American spending on public K-12 education is at an all-time high and is still rising. Polls show that many believe a lack of resources is a primary problem facing public schools. Yet spending on American K-12 public Education is at an all-time high. Approximately $9,300 is spent per pupil. Real spending per student has increased by 23.5 percent over the past decade and by 49 percent over the past 20 years.”

It cannot be said enough that there is no correlation between the amount of funding and the level of student proficiency. The most recent Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA) noted that the U.S. had additional funding of more than $75,000 per student over a ten-year period. Still, it did not have additional positive effects on academic achievement.

In California, the return on investment is not good.