AP Distorts Pennsylvania Education Spending

In an article about potential cuts to state appropriations to school districts – which represent cuts to the approved budget, not to last year’s spending, and would be more than replaced with federal funds – the Associated Press grossly misrepresents what Pennsylvania spends on public schools (emphasis added):

A U.S. Census report in June became the latest in a long line of reports that underscored Pennsylvania’s below-average public education spending, ranking the commonwealth 31st in state tax dollars spent per pupil in the 2007-08 school year.

At $5,200 per pupil, Pennsylvania ranked behind each of its neighbors, but above several high-population states, including Texas, Florida, Illinois and Georgia. Historically, Pennsylvania supplies less than 40 percent of school spending. Nationally, the average is near 50 percent, the Census said.

This analysis mentions that the study is of state spending, not local spending by school districts or federal aid, but by leaving out the latter, it implies Pennsylvania is a low-spending state. It may be argued that Pennsylvania should spend more at the state level, and less at the local level – but all such proposals to do that have been defeated.

The fact is that Pennsylvania school districts spent over $13,000 per student in 2008-09. Adjusting for inflation, this represents a 133% increase in spending per-pupil since 1980. According to NEA estimates, Pennsylvania is the 11th highest state in spending per pupil. And all the concerns of layoffs by schools ignores the trend of the past decade – since 2000, enrollment has declined by 26,960 while schools have hired 32,937 more employees.

More on Pennsylvania Education Spending.