Public Schools Are Not "Starved of Funding," No Matter What You Read in the New York Times

Daniel Mitchell pokes at an oft-repeated, always-untrue canard about government education spending that popped up again in the New York Times last week:

Chrystia Freeland wrote an article about income inequality, making some decent points about cronyism, but also reflexively regurgitating talking points on class-warfare tax policy. What caught my eye, though, was this incredible assertion about government funding of education.

Educational attainment, which created the American middle class, is no longer rising. The super-elite lavishes unlimited resources on its children, while public schools are starved of funding. …elite education is increasingly available only to those already at the top. Bill Clinton and Barack Obama enrolled their daughters in an exclusive private school; I’ve done the same with mine.

So “public schools are starved of funding”? That’s a strong statement. It implies very deep reductions in the amount of money being diverted from taxpayers to the government schools. So where are the numbers?....

As show in this chart, government spending on education has skyrocketed in recent years.

This data isn’t adjusted for inflation or population, but you can peruse this amazing chart put together by one of Cato’s education experts to see that per-pupil spending has skyrocketed even after adjusting for inflation.

Reason has written early and often on education spending. 

Editor's Note: We invite comments and request that they be civil and on-topic. We do not moderate or assume any responsibility for comments, which are owned by the readers who post them. Comments do not represent the views of Reason.com or Reason Foundation. We reserve the right to delete any comment for any reason at any time. Report abuses.

  • John||

    Just as we have always been at war with Eurasia, all schools are struggling and under funded.

  • John||

    And speaking of Eurasia, apparently Orwell was in fact an anti-Semetic crapweasel or the worst ilk.

    http://www.bookforum.com/inprint/019_03/10013

    It always comes down to the Jews with socialists doesn't it?

  • sarcasmic||

    Anti-Semetism was actually quite fashionable until some German dude took it to its logical conclusion.

  • Whiterun Guard||

    Uwe Boll?

  • Heroic Mulatto||

    Was it him being socialist or just him being a Brit?

  • Zeb||

    There are definitely worse ilks of anti-Semitic crapweasel than Orwell was.

  • ||

    Yeah, there's a huge difference between "I don't want them joining my Country Club" and "I want them put in gas chambers".

    I'd put Orwell's anti-semitism pretty much in the first category, except that as a socialist he probably disapproved of Country Clubs too. :)

  • sarcasmic||

    Public schools are doing well? Give them more funding!

    Public schools suck? Fix it with more money!

  • Whiterun Guard||

    Why do you hate the children, sarc?

  • sarcasmic||

    They're loud. They smell. They get into things. They ask stupid questions. They're expensive. They turn into teenagers which then turn into adults. They're irresponsible. They are used as an excuse to tax my property. They leave messes wherever they go. Shall I go on?

  • Whiterun Guard||

    No, I don't need any more reasons to sentence them to public education. You've convinced me.

  • Jordan||

    Amen to that. I have absolutely no desire to have children.

  • ||

    I used to. Then I had one.

  • sarcasmic||

    ditto

  • Jordan||

    Indeed. Government entities have absolutely no incentive to improve their services; they have every incentive to fail. And the more spectacular the failure, the better off they will be next year.

  • Whiterun Guard||

    But what if we hit Peak Failure?

  • PapayaSF||

    Similarly, if there's a recession, we need to spend more on welfare because the poor are suffering. If the economy is good, we need to spend more on welfare because we can afford to and it's unfair that the poor aren't benefitting from prosperity.

  • $park¥||

    My daughter is set to graduate this year and the other day she brought home a form that I need to fill out and submit with $50 to get her cap and gown. She said that if the $50 isn't paid this week, it's going to go up to $60 next week. I assume the cost will keep increasing until the money is paid. I asked her what would happen if I refused to pay the money, she wasn't sure but thought it meant she wouldn't be able to graduate. I intend to get to the bottom of it with the school.

    At this point I'm fed up with being nickle and dimed to death with all these bullshit things the schools keep sending my kids home with.

  • Whiterun Guard||

    You should have thought about that before you got pregnant.

  • The Craig||

    Free contraception would have saved him $50. No other costs to consider.

  • $park¥||

    At this point I'm glad that neither of them participates in school sponsored sports.

  • In Time Of War||

    Heck, the urinalysis bills alone would put you in the poor house.

  • ||

    I'd look into some kind of concientious objection angle here. Just wondering, but I wonder what parents who are really strapped for cash are supposed do about shit like this.

    One of the things they're relying on, of course, is the notion that your daughter will somehow feel left out if she cannot participate in this pageantry.

    I gotta admit, fifty semolians is a lot of cash to lay out for something that only gets worn once in a fucking lifetime (but then I think the same about wedding dresses, especially considering the fact that marriage has become pretty much meaningless today).

  • $park¥||

    One of the things they're relying on, of course, is the notion that your daughter will somehow feel left out if she cannot participate in this pageantry.

    The funny thing is, I brought up this exact point with my daughter. Her response: "I'm not sure I want to go through that crap anyway."

  • sarcasmic||

    It's worth it if only to be able to say "Woo hoo! I never have to step foot on this property again!"

  • Zeb||

    Then don't pay the $50. It won't keep her from getting the diploma.

    An acquaintance of mine in college showed up to graduation in jeans and a white t-shirt.

  • Night Elf Mohawk||

    I showed up in jeans and an a t-shirt. They weren't going to let me walk until one of my English teachers convinced me to wear his tie. Over, I think, an AC-DC shirt.

  • Killazontherun||

    I enjoyed wearing Iron Maiden and Jack Daniel's shirts in school, but the best way to really get the 1960's deadenders that made up some of the faculty was to dress like a prep school rich kid. Not even close to half of them were hippie dipshits, but it annoyed enough of them to be worth the effort.

  • $park¥||

    This is my plan considering my daughter has already expresses displeasure at the thought of the ceremony. I just need to make the principal understand that she will, in fact, graduate. The local schools have tried to pull some crazy shit in the past and need to be stared down now and again.

  • In Time Of War||

    I refused to go to my high school graduation because the whole thing seemed pretty lame.
    They mailed my diploma and my life went on.
    I have no idea where it is now and I don't care.

  • sarcasmic||

    If marriage is meaningless, why do the homos want it so badly?

  • R C Dean||

    So they can put on frilly dresses and throw a big party?

  • $park¥||

    Uh ... I've never known them to have trouble finding such an occasion.

  • Heroic Mulatto||

    If marriage is meaningless, why do the homos want it so badly?

    Grass is always greener on the other side.

  • Zeb||

    Meaning is in the eye of the beholder.

  • PapayaSF||

    So that they can get benefits.

  • Heroic Mulatto||

    I gotta admit, fifty semolians is a lot of cash to lay out for something that only gets worn once in a fucking lifetime

    Is the 50 bucks to buy the gown or to rent? I rented both my high school and Bachelor's gowns. If I remember correctly, they were around 50 bucks to rent (20-sem-odd years ago). I had to bite the bullet when it came to my Master's and Doctoral gowns/hoods, but I have to wear it twice a year, at least.

  • $park¥||

    I'm fairly certain it's rent for the day but the anger clouds my memory. Schools generally don't sell anything.

  • Zeb||

    I bought my high-school one. I'm pretty sure it was like $25 or something. They were almost transparent. I really wanted to go with nothing on underneath, but my parents convinced me to go with shorts and bare feet instead.

  • Pro Libertate||

    I skipped my law school graduation, not wanting to fly back to Chicago in the dead of winter just for a ceremony.

  • Doctor Whom||

    My first letter to the editor that The New York Times published was about school funding. An article had the obligatory whining about underfunded schools, in Cleveland in that case. I managed to show, from the article's own figures, that the school district was in fact well funded per pupil. I guess that no one at the newspaper of record can even operate a calculator.

  • The Craig||

    I argued with a friend recently on school choice. Not my best argument, but I asked if school districting was so great, should we do the same for higher ed?

    Amazingly he said yes. This is a guy who majored in computer science on a full ride and is doing quite well for himself. I am not sure we can be friends anymore.

  • Heroic Mulatto||

    I argued with a friend recently on school choice. Not my best argument, but I asked if school districting was so great, should we do the same for higher ed?

    Amazingly he said yes.

    Wow...I have no words.

  • The Craig||

    He probably thinks he won the argument because I could not proceed. My mind melted.

  • Heroic Mulatto||

    Did said friend go to a university that was in his "district"?

  • The Craig||

    In-state, but no. He was about 45 minutes away.

  • Heroic Mulatto||

    There you go. What makes him such a special little snowflake that he could study at an institution mere 45 minutes away, but that others don't deserve such an opportunity?

  • Whiterun Guard||

    You should keep him as a friend. Or at least an acquaintance. It's always good to have someone that you're not affectionately bound to in case you need to frame someone for murder.

  • The Craig||

    Or at the very least, he makes me feel better about myself.

  • Sal Paradise||

    "The super-elite lavishes unlimited resources on its children, while public schools are starved of funding"

    Clearly, the only way to make this "fair" is to give public schools unlimited resources.

  • Doctor Whom||

    We've all but done that in some urban school systems, such as Baltimore city, D.C., and Alexandria. We all know what a glorious success that has been.

  • DJF||

    They tried that in Kanasa City and made no improvement in results

    http://www.cato.org/pubs/pas/pa-298.html

  • Fist of Etiquette||

    Public schools will soon be cruising the aisles at Walmart on one of those scooters?

  • Jam||

    Textbooks round the world
    http://www.economist.com/node/21564554
    PARISIANS are in a tizz about capitalism. New Yorkers get stressed about sex. In Seoul and San Antonio, Texas, 11,000km apart, citizens fret about the relationship between humans and apes.

  • Heroic Mulatto||

    California and Texas tend to dominate such debates. These two big states have dictated the content of textbooks for the past 30 years, one feeding liberal teachers’ appetites, the other the conservatives’.

    This, to me, shows the superiority of the American system of local control in education; i.e. a diversity of views. I would argue that such culture war posturing is dynamic, at least. Compare this to Japan, which has a nationally mandated curriculum where a small but vocal minority prevent Japanese history textbooks from suggesting that Imperial Japan did anything untoward during WW2.

    A trip to Wikipedia by way of a smartphone will not necessarily let children work their way out of such dichotomies. But it will help.

    Err...the fuck?

  • Jam||

    but you (use to) have to travel to a Parisian museum to see the graphic images of the Hiroshima nuclear fallout

  • Killazontherun||

    That's a myth easily disputed by my first edition book collection.

  • Killazontherun||

    In the 1930's the stone age culture of Nanking was brought into the twentieth century with the introduction of sex tourism.

  • Killazontherun||

    From these pictures of Bataan you see out of shape Westerners being taught the benefits of a strict exercise regimen.

  • The Late P Brooks||

    Obviously, WE'RE JUST NOT HITTING IT HARD ENOUGH!

  • The Late P Brooks||

    Those fucking super-elites, hogging all the knowledge. When will this tragedy end?

  • Night Elf Mohawk||

    I don't know when, but I know it won't be in Minnesota.

  • Randian||

    The fact that libertarians always decry the state and funding of public schools show we actually DO care about communities, children, minorities, etc.

    See, the true short-range selfish pricks (like me) save our money and move to a top-tier school district, and then oppose any market reforms, because 'fuck you jack, I got mine'. This is what rich liberals and upper-crust folks do: they ensconce themselves somewhere and fight against any change.

  • Doctor Whom||

    In the school district in which I went to school, the educrats decreed that busing bright children from across the district to the best programs would be elitist and therefore wrong. Instead, those programs had to be reserved for the students living nearby, i.e., those whose parents could afford the insanely expensive real estate around such schools. Keep up the good work, egalitarians.

GET REASON MAGAZINE

Get Reason's print or digital edition before it’s posted online

  • Video Game Nation: How gaming is making America freer – and more fun.
  • Matt Welch: How the left turned against free speech.
  • Nothing Left to Cut? Congress can’t live within their means.
  • And much more.

SUBSCRIBE

advertisement