Public school advocacy groups are pointing out that inflation-adjusted per-student spending is lower than it was before the Great Recession. But I do not believe that ignoring the recession makes for a sound analysis.

During the recession, a Democratic legislative majority cut state education spending significantly.  Since the 2010 elections, Republicans have boosted nominal per-pupil expenditures (PPE) nearly every year, although those increases have not always kept pace with inflation or enrollment growth.

Using the GDP Deflator to adjust for inflation (base=2015) and NC Department of Public Instruction data, I determined that state expenditures were higher in 2015 than they were in any year between 2011 and 2014.

Year Nominal State PPE Inflation-Adjusted State PPE
2015 $5,638.39 $5,638.39
2014 $5,390.12 $5,437.72
2013 $5,399.64 $5,544.75
2012 $5,361.41 $5,590.03
2011 $5,161.73 $5,472.08