money cant solve it all
Licensed from Unsplash - Credit: Kat Yukawa

The Bottom Line Sometimes You Don’t Get what You Pay For

A scan of the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP), “the nations report card,” makes it clear that revenues have increased significantly from 1996 to 2016 (the most recent data compiled). However, has that changed the overall outcomes for our children’s education? The data suggest it has not. According to The Hill, “Six of the top 10 states that improved their average test scores on the NAEP the most were among the 11 states with the smallest funding growth.”

As our program chair, Don Nielsen, writes in his book Every School, “Spending has grown at ten times the rate of enrollment. Thus, we are now spending almost three times more per child, in inflation-adjusted dollars, to educate our children than in 1970. Most of the money has gone to either increase the pay of educators or for an increase in the number of adults working in our public education system. We now have almost twice as many adults per student as in 1970. Growth in adult employment has grown four times faster than student enrollment.”

Here at the American Center for Transforming Education we had the idea to narrow it down to a state that we have recognized as a state ready to take on education reform: Idaho. Not only is Idaho nimble and small enough to transform their education system, they have the leaders with the passion and drive to get the job done.

Data Pulled From: National Center for Education Statistics, Digest of Education Statistics,
Date Pulled From: The NAEP “Item Response Theory” scale, represents summarizes student performance in testing areas which require ability, skill, and knowledge.

From the above charts it is clear that since 1999, Idaho exhibits the same trend as the rest of the nation. Revenues have, doubled and test scores do not show for it. As Nielsen states, “we have witnessed that investing more money into a failed system will simply produce a more expensive failed system.”

Moving forward, Idaho needs to focus on policy reforms that will transform their education system rather funneling more money to a unproductive educational system. Taxpayers continue to front the bill for education and have yet to see the investment pay off.

Nielsen warns, “If we are serious about educating all our children, we must first fundamentally change the existing system of public education. The change must start with state laws.”

Bailey Takacs

Development Program Coordinator, American Center for Transforming Education
Bailey Takacs served as development program coordinator to Discovery Institutes' American Center for Transforming Education and Development team. Bailey has experiences which also include: campaign management and administrative roles with elected officials at the local, state, and federal levels of the government. He holds a B.A. in Politics and Government from Pacific Lutheran University.
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