by Dr. Robert Luebke
Director of the Center for Effective Education, John Locke Foundation
In today’s Wall Street Journal, Corey DeAngelis Director of School Choice at the Reason Foundation and Executive Director of the Education Freedom Institute, rebuffs the teacher union claim that it’s a lack of money that has kept most public schools closed almost a year after they were first shuttered last March due to coronavirus.
Our new analysis throws another wrench in the teachers union narrative. We examine data from more than 12,000 school districts nationwide, covering more than 90% of school-age children, and find no evidence to suggest that higher revenue or expenditures per student are associated with a higher probability of reopening schools for in-person learning.
Instead, we find that public school funding is either uncorrelated or even negatively correlated with in-person instruction. Some models suggest that schools that went fully remote were better off financially than their in-person counterparts in the same state.
These results hold across various analytic techniques and specifications that control for district size and a rich set of county-level demographics such as political tendencies, Covid-19 risk, household income, educational attainment, and race and age distributions.
Like other studies, ours didn’t find a consistent negative relationship between Covid-19 risk in the community and the probability of reopening in person. School reopening was strongly related, however, to county-level voting patterns in the 2016 election.
Teachers unions — including the North Carolina Teachers Association — continue to fleece taxpayers in the name of coronavirus. Including the $1.9 trillion dollar bill recently passed by the Senate, government has approved almost $200 billion in new coronavirus relief funding for K-12 public schools. The Cares Act brought about $400 million to K-12 schools in North Carolina. More recently the General Assembly approved another $1.6 billion in federal funding for Elementary and Secondary schools. In addition, the soon to be approved, America Rescue Plan is scheduled to bring another $3.8 billion to elementary and secondary schools in North Carolina.
Are our public schools closed because they lack resources to open? It’s an assertion that lacks justification.