Public School Performance

The evidence decisively shows that educational achievement is not tied directly to high levels of funding. The assumption that more money means better education is unfounded, and legislators must remain skeptical about attempts to link overall student performance with increased per pupil spending.

As the following chart shows, per-student public education spending in Texas has increased each and every year since 1999 (even when adjusted for inflation), while educational outcomes (as measured by statewide average SAT scores) have remained static, showing neither improvement nor decline:

Despite increased funding, overall academic achievement has remained flat, which brings the debate full-circle back to the question of getting more for every education dollar.

As a consequence of this generally mediocre performance, education spending ought to be put under a microscope as much as any other state agency or program. Governed by individual school districts that have both taxing authority and budget authority, there are only weak checks, at best, on the growth of the education bureaucracy, defined here as any personnel beyond the classroom teacher, campus administrator or principal.

High expectations, rigorous standards, and parental involvement are much more critical to educational attainment than spending. Additionally, education can be delivered in varying forms and at different price points, not just through a government-funded monopoly system. The fact that the state sanctions alternative forms of education, such as private schools and home schools, that have worked demonstrably well with little or no state funding, illustrates the point that more money does not equate to a better education.

Indeed, the success of home-schooled students at the collegiate level demonstrates the shallowness of school funding debates, which are really about what the taxpayer is willing to pay for public school workers than any discernable outcome.