Myth: PA Spends Less on Education
There are many myths circulating about how much Pennsylvania spends on public education. One such myth is that the state government used to provide 50 percent of all revenue for public schools, equaling the local share. State records indicate otherwise.
The state’s share of education funding has never been as high as 50 percent. Records from the Pennsylvania Department of Education show that the state’s percentage of education revenue reached an all-time high of 45 percent in 1974-75.
While the state share declined from 45 percent to 36 percent of total school district revenue, this was not due to a reduction in state subsidies for education. State aid—adjusted for inflation—increased by 41 percent since 1974. The state share only declined because local tax revenue—also adjusted for inflation—increased 98 percent over that frame.
Moreover, claims about the percentage of education revenue coming from the state is often used to advocate for more state spending.
However, according to NCES data, Pennsylvania’s state aid per student is about the national average, and we rank middle-of-the-pack in state revenue per student. The “state share” is lower because Pennsylvania’s local education revenue is nearly $3,000 per student more than the national average, ranking Pennsylvania 7th in the nation.
Indeed, Pennsylvania taxpayers spend significantly more per student—about $3,000 above the U.S. average—and more than most other states.
|Per Pupil Revenue||Total||Federal||State||Local|
|Source: National Center for Education Statistics, Digest of Education Statistics, Table 235.20. Revenues for public elementary and secondary schools, by source of funds and state or jurisdiction: 2010-11, http://nces.ed.gov/programs/digest/d13/tables/dt13_235.20.asp|
Here are some more facts about Pennsylvania education spending.