Vid: This Impoverished City Hiked Spending to $25,000 per Student to Fix Its Schools. And Nothing Changed.

How did Camden, N.J. come to have one of the highest spending AND worst performing school districts in the nation?


This story was originally posted on January 26, 2015. The original writeup is below:

The recent history of Camden, New Jersey, which is the poorest small city in America, provides a case study of the tragic ineffectiveness of government programs at ameliorating poverty. State and federal taxpayers have spent hundreds of millions of dollars on various redevelopment programs in Camden over the years, but the money never ended up where it was supposed to and the promised revival of this fallen manufacturing town never happened.

By far, the largest initiative to combat poverty with government largess has been directed at Camden's public schools. New Jersey spends about 60% more on education per pupil than the national average according to 2012 census figures, or about $19,000 in 2013. In Camden, per pupil spending was more than $25,000 in 2013, making it one of the highest spending districts in the nation.

But all that extra money hasn't changed the fact that Camden's public schools are among in the worst in the nation, notorious for their abysmal test scores, the frequent occurrence of in-school violence, dilapidated buildings, and an on-time graduation rate of just 61 percent.

This is the story of how Camden became one of the nation's best funded and worst performing school districts, which is the first in a three-part video series on Camden public school system.

Click here to watch part two, which is a profile of LEAP, Camden's first and most successful charter school. Click here to watch part three, which looks at how the state is remaking public education in Camden by creating a hybrid model of traditional and charter schools.

About 8:30.

Shot, edited, produced and narrated by Jim Epstein. Production assistance by Brett Crudgington.

NEXT: Baylen Linnekin: Supreme Court Gets Another Chance to Kill Crazy Raisin Regulations

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 or Reason Foundation. We reserve the right to delete any comment for any reason at any time. Report abuses.

  1. Highest state spending. Worst performing schools.

    Who could have guessed?

    1. Unpossible!

  2. Line the teachers and administrators up in the gym; one awl for admin, another for teaching staff. Stick a sword (galadius is traditional) into every tenth administrator. Tell the assembly “We don’t care how you do it; teach the little monsters how to read, write, and do math or we’ll be back”

    Wash, rinse, repeat. When you run out of administrators, start on teachers union reps. When you run out of them, start on teachers.


  3. Start working part time. I kept hearing other people tell me how much money they can make online so I decided to look into it. Well, it was all true and has totally changed my life….
    Open this link to get the opportunity , as like i did and i am feeling crazy.. it realy works,
    ????? http://www.Workvalt.Com

    1. Maybe you should talk with the folks in Camden.

  4. But if larger more expensive government doesn’t work why do we need it? My hate speech for the day.

  5. clearly, not enough money was spent.

  6. My last pay check was $ 9500 working 10 hours a week online. My Friend’s has been averaging 14k for months now and she works about 21 hours a week. I can’t believe how easy it was once I tried it out

  7. If that was a real question……..l/details/

    If not, let’s pretend it was bad teachers! That MUST be it!

  8. So they spend $25K/student and the schools fall in the bottom 5% of the state. That is an enormous sum for failure. I can see where the mother doesn’t want to see teachers laid off, but clearly the status quo isn’t working. Throwing more money at a bad system doesn’t make it better it just costs more money. By the way, for grade school and high school kids, at least half of academic performance comes from what happens at home. The example set by parents (searching for a way to get payday loan with bad credit and then spending the money on something unnecessary involving themselves in debt) and their influence in ensuring kids are taking school seriously.

Please to post comments

Comments are closed.