So Where Does it All Go?
The US Census Bureau has released its latest Education Finance Report, comparing the K-12 spending of US states in the 2005-06 school year.
While the Census report uses numbers lower than those released by the SC Budget and Control Board (here), the report is useful for comparing South Carolina directly to other states using a singular methodology.
The report ranks combined local, state, and federal spending with adjustments for state personal income. South Carolina ranks 17th of the 50 states, with almost $56 in K-12 spending per $1,000 of personal income.
This ranking is based on a Census figure of $8,091 per pupil in spending for South Carolina. The actual figure released by the SC Budget and Control board for 2005-06 was $10,666. Lawmakers estimate that per-pupil spending will reach an astonishing $11,480 in 2009.
Still, politicians continue to clamor for more and more spending on public schools (rather than better spending on public education). The cry for more money is a ploy, intended to distract taxpayers from the sustained failure of public schools in South Carolina. The 47 percent high school completion rate and 49th place SAT scores will not be resolved through more money. In fact, by many measures performance at public schools is actually worsening as the spending continues to grow.
Policy makers need to be honest: more and more money for failing public schools and administrative waste will not help South Carolina’s children. Opening the schools to competition through school choice will. This means more money for public schools (since choice costs less), more accountability, and freedom for parents to choose what is best for their children.