Q&A – Is There A Connection Between School Spending & Outcomes

Today’s entry: Hi Brian, You always provide an incredible factual program. There is no correlation between money spent on education and the outcomes after the minimum requirements are taken care of. How much money goes to the classroom as opposed to management?

Bottom Line: Another day and more good questions regarding education spending in Florida. Is there a connection between education spending and education outcomes and how much money is spent on classroom education compared to administrative costs/bureaucracy? Based on Florida’s 2016-2017 audited financials, about 61% of education spending statewide goes to classroom education, or what’s known as instruction spending per pupil. That leaves 39% of education spending that goes to feed the beast. Looking across the country, we’re exactly average in terms of education efficiency. The low end is 53% in Alaska, to 70% in New York. Yes, New York spends the most of any state on education, but also leads in delivering the highest percentage of spending on classroom education. Florida’s efficiency is at 61% and there’s clearly an opportunity to improve.

Florida now spends over $24 billion annually on education. A nine percent improvement in efficiency, to equal New York’s, would free up $2.2 billion annually. How big of a deal would that be? The annual cost of Governor DeSantis’s teacher pay plan would be just over $600 million per year. If Florida were to lead the country in education efficiency, we could pay for the governor’s proposed pay increase and still have around $1.6 billion for other improvements in education. As for spending vs.outcomes, you’re right about there not being hard and fast connections. It’s hard to measure outcomes between states. I prefer to use graduation rates as a starting point for the conversation.

Based on graduation rates, Florida ranks above average. Florida’s 43rd in per-pupil spending in education, yet we rank above average with graduation rates. Meanwhile, New York which spends the most on education per student, has one of the worst graduation rates in the country, with a rate that trails Florida’s by more than four percent. Our per-pupil spending is less than half of what New York spends. Clearly, simply spending a lot of money on education, even if most of it is delivered on classroom education, doesn’t equal specific outcomes. Something to keep in mind as we debate education reforms and teacher pay in this year’s state session. As a reminder, the proposed overhaul to Florida’s education curriculum will soon be announced as well. The education establishment will be changing in Florida. We’re just not certain as to what that looks like aside from scrapping Common Core.

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