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In Education–You Get What You Pay For

Attendees at my workshops are informed that 15 states produce nearly 80 percent of all school dropouts. I ask them if they believe that their state is one of those states. Some correctly say “yes”; some correctly say “no”; and some incorrectly identify their state’s position. I follow up and ask what the states on the list have in common. Most correctly state that the states are predominantly rural, are positioned along the southern and western borders, and have a large minority population. What they fail to identify is that the states spend less on education than the majority of states. With the American economy at the beginnings of a recession/depression, educational spending will be a major issue in the next few months.

The General Accounting Office estimates that the 50 sttates need to spend an additional $112 billion just to put school buildings in a reasonable working order.

In the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) of the top 15 states in reading, 10 are among the top 20 percent of state spenders. Among the top 15 states in science curriculums, more than half are among the top 20 spenders.

Money however is not the magic answer to all of the problems. Obviously, Washington DC spends more money on education than any single state and has a terrible record. Massachusetts, is 43rd in spending and is high in achievement. But Massachusetts, is a state with one of the highest per-capita incomes in the country and a high concentration of elite public and private schools.

The reality is that when the data is released on achievement or dropouts or graduation rates, we need to look at how much each state spends on achieving those results.

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