Monday, March 9, 2009

Does Money Per Se Lead to Learning (in Ga.)?

Economist Ben Scafidi of Georgia State has completed a study analyzing 25 years of education spending in the state of Georgia. It shows, Scafidi writes in the Mar. 9 Atlanta Journal-Constitution:

Investing more taxpayer funds in education does not produce greater student achievement. ...[P]er-student spending over the last generation (adjusted for inflation) more than doubled in Georgia, while at the same time public high school graduation rates fell. This dramatic increase in operational spending led to large decreases in class sizes, huge improvements in instructional technology and large increases in administration.

Scafidi lays out the numbers and contrast the situation in Georgia with that in comparable states:

...In 1990, Georgia students were 41st in national graduation rates. Billions of dollars later, we rank 49th.

By contrast, 21 states spend less than Georgia and have higher graduation rates, including three that are highly diverse like Georgia. Arizona spends $2,500 less per student, yet has a graduation rate that is 23 percentage points higher than Georgia’s.

California spends $2,000 less per student, yet has a graduation rate that is 13 percentage points higher than Georgia’s.

Texas spends almost $1,000 less per student, yet has a graduation rate that is 12 percentage points higher than Georgia’s.

Scafidi contends that the solution is not more money, but rather greater productivity.


  1. I enjoyed Mr. Scafidi's article very much. I wish I could get just half of the money that goes into the public school system for my son.

    That would pay for a nice private school education.

  2. Furthermore, if I cannot access money for private/home education, why can't schools allow for alternative resources such as Internet classes that the student can enjoy at home while, say, helping with siblings or a single parent household?

    All the money that goes to the school system is a good and noble thing. But it goes still to ignorant people in the system with backwards ideas about which child merits attention and which child "won't make it anyway". Such a system rewards failure and makes the bad teachers more powerful and more dangerous.

    My son's middle school has a few PTO officers and other priveleged parents that have formed a clique. Their children enjoy all the fruits of my taxes that I wish my child could enjoy.

    Why do I have to watch graduation ceremonies with their children paraded past my son as superior? This just causes bitterness and hurt feelings that children are not equipped to handle. The hurt causes the huge drop out rate in Georgia, I do suspect, a lot of times.

    Even if a few bigwigs were left out of their yearly bonus bonanza, would it not be better to have more equalized systems where all children can learn and excel?


  3. Jean,
    Why don't you concentrate on your son and not the school. He might be better off if you help him adjust to school and stop worring about what other people have.