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Do Americans Think We Spend Too Much On Education?


This would be interesting if viewed in light of the fact that Americans have no idea what they're talking about (they way underestimate the amount already spent on education). See

One of the survey's findings: "How well informed is the public about these financial commitments? Not very. Among those asked without the prompt listing possible expenses, the median response was $2,000, or less than 20 percent of the true amount being spent in their districts. Over 90 percent of the public offered an amount less than the amount actually spent in their district, and more than 40 percent of the sample claimed that annual spending was $1,000 per pupil or less." No wonder Americans support more spending, if they're underestimating current spending by 80-90%!

Stuart, I saw that too. But even among respondents who are told actual spending amounts in their districts, a majority still supports increased spending: Another recent poll (I think it was AP) asked whether Americans were willing to pay higher taxes for education. 42 percent responded in the affirmative (MoE: +/- 4 percent). Some people said that meant support was low, but I took away the opposite: in the middle of a massive recession, with anti-tax sentiment as it is, a near-majority of Americans would still pay higher taxes for education. That's pretty amazing. There aren't many issues that would elicit that response. Yes, Americans may not know much about how much we spent on education (though they certainly know their property taxes), and they may not realize that more money does not necessarily improve performance. But they still recognize the importance of education, and are willing to invest in it. Personally, I think that's a good thing.

If the American people knew just how the money was spent in education, the responses would be completely different. Like hiding all the food to feed teachers junk food when they come to meetings in a category called "workshop expenses". This at a time when the state pays health care for the teachers and the cost is increasing more than 10% each year, and obesity is an issue. That schools are having to pay the medical bills for students whose healthcare should be paying, because "it is a barrier to learning". To have full time employees paid with Federal money linked up one on one with students who sadly are so handicapped that they will never be a functioning part of society (we can only love these children)and stay with them all day (free daycare is really what this amounts to). $500 office chairs, IPADS for principals who have desktops and laptops. This list could go on and on. The money in education is spent under the umbrella of "it's all for the children". Well this school district finance office employee would say to the American people "ask how the money is being spent". Teachers going to "workshops" in Mexico, China and other countries, when the economy is so bad. By the way, does Mexico have a better education system than the US that there is something to learn? The list goes on and on.

I think you are right that the American public "say" they want to invest, but their actions prove otherwise. It's a classic conundrum--we all want it, but none of us are willing to see to it that we get it.

TFT - I know exactly what you're saying, but the fact remains that, during non-recession years, school budgets (in which property tax increases in many states are embedded) pass at rather high rates, as do tax levies and other dedicated measures. The recession has understandably tempered this willingness to some extent, but even this year, a majority of levies passed in hard-hit states like Minnesota and Ohio. Nevertheless, you're obviously correct that there's some disconnect between words and action, especially when people are asked to pay for education outside of their own districts. MD


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