The idea that the proverbial government solution of throwing money at the problem is any answer to America's public education woes is becoming more untenable. A recent study from the National Bureau of Economic Research examines educational spending growth in America over the past century. From 1890 to 1990, authors Eric Hanushek and Steven Rivkin found, inflation-adjusted per student school expenditures increased 3.5 percent every year, on average.
The three main causes? Rising real wages of teachers, declining number of pupils per teacher, and a disproportionate rise in educational spending on things other than teachers. Teachers' wages more than quintupled in 1990 dollars from 1890 to 1990. From 1970 to 1990 alone, the pupil-to-teacher ratio dropped from 21 to 15, which explains 85 percent of the instructional staff salary increase per student of that period. And educational spending on things other than teacher salaries has gone from one-fourth of total educational costs in 1890 to 54 percent in 1990.