New analysis of public school spending leaves out local spending
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Published: 14-Sep-2013

OKLAHOMA CITY -- The Center on Budget and Policy Priorities (CBPP) concludes, in a new analysis of public school funding since the start of the Great Recession,  there has been a decline in state government public school funding in 34 states.

Further, the report, from a “progressive” or liberal-leaning group based in the nation’s capital, listed Oklahoma as having made the steepest reductions in state spending on public schools.

However, the analysis ignores local government spending on schools, and spending for education secured through state authority.

An immediate critique of the CBPP report, released Thursday, pointed out that in its report on Kansas spending, the national group ignored revenues for public education triggered by state authority, including property taxes.

The report also ignored recovery or “stimulus” money states used to “backfill” tax revenue declines during the Great Recession.  

While the CBPP analysis estimated per-pupil state spending in Oklahoma at only $3,038, the National Education Association (NEA) – while also a critic of Oklahoma state spending on schools – places total per-pupil spending at $8,285 per student. Other analysts put the per-pupil figure somewhat higher. 

In any case, the per-pupil spending figure may be problematic in its own right.

Nationwide, The Cato Institute’s Andrew Coulson has sketched the increased number of public school employees, a 100 percent hike since 1970 in contrast to total enrollment (declines for 20 years after 1970, before slowly climbing over three decades). 

Coulson has pointed out that steady increases in public education spending, some 160 percent over several decades, have nonetheless yielded flat or declining student achievement

Mike Antonucci of the Education Intelligence Agency has studied five-year trends in pep-pupil spending on government-run schools.

For the years 2005-06 through 2010-11, Antonucci found a 0.2 percent decline in enrollment, a 16 percent increase in taxpayer funding, and flat or declining achievement.

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