- A recent report published in Educational Researcher, authored by education policy and governance researcher David M. Houston, explores the relationship between public support for state education spending and actual per-pupil state expenditures over the past three decades, in which increased public support has been met with less state spending.
- This phenomenon can partially be explained by distribution shifts in local, state and federal sources of education funding, with findings showing that states with increases in federal spending on K-12 education haven't seen the increase reflected in state and local spending.
- However, Houston says, overall education spending from all three sources has relatively increased over time.
Six states that faced teacher strikes last year — Arizona, California, Colorado, North Carolina, Oklahoma and West Virginia — have had only small increases in education spending since the 1980s when compared to other states. State and local spending grew relatively slowly in those states, as well.
Research suggests achievement and graduation rates, as well as life outcomes such as employment and wages, improve when more money is spent on education. This is especially true for students from low-income families. Increased spending on education can also lead to reduced poverty rates.
A brief published by the Learning Policy Institute in April suggests guidelines at the federal level that could lead to achieving a high-quality education, including:
- equalizing resources provided under the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) across states so those with high poverty rates receive a greater portion of funds
- ensuring qualified teachers are assigned to diverse schools
- requiring states to report and act on “opportunity indicators,” which include the availability of highly qualified teachers, the presence of a strong curriculum and access to resources.
States can improve schools by empowering districts to hire and retain educators and ensuring high-quality preschool for children who may have greater needs than the average student.
In a recent PDK poll, a majority of adults agreed that schools are underfunded. Six in 10 parents and all adults, along with 75% of teachers, say their local schools don’t have enough funds, and state legislators surveyed by the National Conference on State Legislatures also named school funding as their top priority.