There is no denying that teacher layoffs have occurred over the past three years. But the constant cries of education spending being cut to the bone are difficult to square with figures in the National Education Association’s most recent Rankings & Estimates, which show uninterrupted spending increases.
Let’s look at the last ten years for convenience, and the last three to examine the effects of the national recession. In 2001-02 there were 2,991,724 K-12 classroom teachers and 47,360,963 K-12 students. K-12 per-pupil spending averaged $7,676.
Ten years later, there were almost 7 percent more teachers and only 4 percent more students. Per-pupil spending was $10,976—a 43 percent increase (12.6 percent in inflation-adjusted dollars).
If we compare this year’s numbers to three years ago, we see an enrollment increase of 0.5 percent, a teacher reduction of 0.4 percent, and an increase in per-pupil spending of 6 percent (1.5 percent in constant dollars).
If we accept that many school districts are spending less than they were three years ago, the national averages force us to accept that many more are still spending more.
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