JLF’s Terry Stoops has an instructive piece today about education spending and the constant cries from progressives that North Carolina spends too little on K-12. I think the spend-more crowd misses the point: exactly what are we getting for our money? Stoops provides facts:
While it is true that North Carolina spends less on K-12 education than the national average, we spend more than all but a handful of industrialized nations. According to the latest expenditure statistics from the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, average per-student expenditures among North Carolina elementary schools ranked sixth-highest in the world. Average per-student expenditures for secondary school students in the state were fifth-highest.
Despite the state’s relatively high level of spending, studies that link state, national, and international test scores agree that North Carolina’s public school students perform at a mediocre level in reading and math, and rank below most of our closest competitors in Western Europe and the Pacific Rim. Countries whose students outperform North Carolina’s – including Canada, Japan, the Netherlands, and Finland – spend thousands of dollars less per student than we do.
Money is a factor, not the solution, and until we focus more on the outcome, not the inputs, we are missing the boat.