You’ve Been Lied to About Public School Funding


When it comes time for politicians to ask for more money, they know there is one topic the public will say yes to pretty much every time.

“We need more money for our schools” and “Our schools are underfunded and it’s hurting our kids”.

But what if that’s a lie?

Twenty-five years ago, the U.S. Department of Education (DOE) estimated that public K–12 schools spent an average of 43–52% more per student than private schools in the 1991–92 school year. Since then, DOE data shows that inflation-adjusted average spending per public school student has risen by 40%.

Who would have guessed that? All we’ve heard, for the better part of my life, is that our schools are underfunded and private schools provide an unfair funding advantage. When it comes time to raise taxes, schools are always worth it.

But where is the money going and, sure, that was 25 years ago but certainly not today, right?

New research by Just Facts uses the latest Department of Education data shows that public school funding, per student, is now 80% higher than private schools.

Specifically, the latest DOE data shows that governments spent an average of $14,439 for every student enrolled in K–12 public schools in the 2016–17 school year. In comparison, Just Facts estimates that private schools spent an average of $8,039 per student in the same year.

And, get this..

That data regarding public school funding does not include costs for state administration, unfunded pension liabilities, and post-employment benefits such as health insurance.

From Just Facts:

As we sit here today, we are hearing from many teachers unions, across the country, say that they will not open until they get more funding and basically shut down private school competition. However, it seems we should be looking a little harder at how the public schools are spending our taxpayer money.

Where is it going? How is it that private schools are able to spend so much less per student?

Like anything in government, there is likely a lot of waste. Perhaps we should be looking at a transition to more private schooling options, not less.

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19 thoughts on “You’ve Been Lied to About Public School Funding”

  1. In my lifetime, I’ve seen frequently repeated calls by liberals for various unnecessary things, claiming “it’s needed for our kids.” It works because no one wants to be seen as not doing what’s needed for our kids. Few even are willing to examine the issue to find the truth of whether the thing is really needed, or often even helpful, for our kids, because they might be seen as not sympathetic to our kid’s needs. As a result, I’m always suspicious of this appeal to try to gain an advantage.

    1. i pay my taxes every year and never had any kids.but i’m ok with that as it’s the most important thing for any kid.luckily for my siblings and i we went to catholic school in the sixties.they provided no transportation so we had to walk.the friars i had in high school were about teaching not politics and never received a salary just living expenses.i will never regret what my parents decided what was best for us kids as we’re all successful in our careers.

  2. Politicians and unions are stealing money for bribery and campaigns to keep robbing public and teach children nothing but indoctrination against government.
    Only fools send their children to public school today.
    The politicians and the rich send their children to schools showing them how to rule your children.
    I have spoken to many young teachers today with their liberal arts educations and they are mostly morons spewing Federal indoctrination not education.

  3. And for how long have vouchers been rejected by the Democratic Party? Education has ceased to be just that and has become just one more tool to be used and discarded in a move to push this country away from Democracy and into Socialism. Controlling the Education system is paramount in establishing Socialism in America since a truly educated society would be able to discern the true issues involved concerning any subject whereas a State controlled Education System (read: propaganda machine) would simply reinforce any acceptable acquisition of information conforming to State edict.

    The Public School system should be run by the public (i.e., the constituents) and not a Union dedicated to preserving its own existence. Most teachers chose their professions on the basis of being able to make a difference in the lives of their students. I doubt if any ever believed their goals would be usurped for a political agenda.

    Ultimately, responsibility comes down to a singular, personal level. If individuals allow unions, organizations or political parties to usurp their rights, as individuals, then this Great Experiment known as the Representative Republic of the United States ceases to exist. Where Government is absolute, there are no individuals.

  4. If public school funding has increased 80% greater than privet schools, than why are there a deficiency in educational materials, school supplies, school personnel (teachers and others) so underpaid and the public-school closures when the population is increasing. Why are needed subjects such as English being taught in ALL schools as well as Geography and HISTORY. No the so-called Social studies does Not take the place of World History, economics and government.
    The question is, Ware is all the money going? It is NOT making it into the School Rooms!
    This sounds like old fashion “Skimming of funds” and we better stop it soon. We are spending more per student and fewer of them are graduating with the basic knowledge that they should have obtained in Jr. High School.

  5. WELL PEOPLE ARE YOU AS FED UP WITH THE SPENDING FOR SCHOOLS AS I AM… TELL US HAVE YOU NOTICED IN ANY WAY THE TEACHING OF THESE KIDS AND ESPECIALLY FROM 10TH GRADE ON. THEY ARE SUPPOSE TO BE MORE MATURE AND KNOWLEDGEABLE——— AND THEY ARE NOT. THEY ARE WILL AS WILD AS EVERY AND ARE EMPTY HEADED AS ALL GET OUT. YOU ASK THEM A QUESTION AND YOU GET , I DON’T KNOW THAT ONE —-DIDN’T LEARN THAT IN SCHOOL. THEIR ARE GOING INTO AN ADULT HOOD AND LOOK AT THEM THEY DON’T KNOW HOW TO DRESS FOR A JOB INTERVUE. THE LOOK SLOPPY. AND THEY SOMETIMES ACT AS IF THEY ARE STILL 8TH GRADERS.!

  6. And that is why I always vote no to more money for schools-EVERYTIME. Show me how you spend my money before I give you more!!!

  7. The public schools have been really going down hill for the last 40 years. When I was in school it was still common to see an unruley student get their butt whipped. Never happen now. I’ll admit, some of it is the parents fault. “You can’t hit my kid!!!” But then the parent won’t slap the crap out of the little brat, either. Teachers have also become lazy. Many times they get a “student teacher” to do the work for them. Then they have so many days off during the school year for additional training instead of having these days scheduled the summer when there isn’t any school. I’ll admit that as a kid I would’ve gladly liked having additional days off during the school year, but this also meant the summer vacation didn’t start until later and was shorter. Now it’s all about the union, not the job. And why does it cost so much to enroll a kid in public school than be forced to buy thousands of dollars of school crap for the kid to go to school. $100.00 should be enough to cover enrollment and supplies.

  8. Been a hot topic for years… In King County Washington, 6.3 BILLION per year for 541 schools. This state recently had a huge new Narrows Bridge built, 6 lanes, 1+ mile long suspension bridge, total project cost was about 1 BILLION, took 2 years at accelerated rate for some of the worlds best contractors to build this…$6.3 BILLION PER YEAR for schools in one county???? 541 schools?… Asking a poly-tick-on beuri-crap the response is ‘why don’t I like children’? Typical for a steaming pile of liars. Am all for ACCOUNTABILITY and lower property taxes which never stop from increasing.
    Hot topic? You bet’

  9. And for all that money PS’ waste, the bottom line is what are their results? We know what they are, it’s obvious to everyone our PS System is a complete joke, a very, very expensive joke. It’s all about the adults involved in the Education Process, the kids they just keep getting screwed, so I say screw the Dems and their thieving Unions and State Employee retirement packages that no state can afford.

  10. If this above is true, private schools can provide students with programs specifically tailored to needs of the student as well as the needs of the local community. Policy in public education is mandated for school systems not as much for the needs of local communities. Private schools can provide for these needs more efficiently due to not having to satisfy the rules of the bureaucracy. I was not aware that the cost per student was so much higher in the public education system. Using school tax money to pay for tuition at a certified private school could lower tax as well provide an education more suited to the individual’s and the communities needs. Teachers that are forced to teach students to pass a specific exam just to get a good score for the school system can not give students as much as teachers that can be free to teach relevant subject matter.

  11. Whenever problems arise we’re told we need to “do more, and do better.” That means more of the same. When the battle is being lost smart commanders try a different strategy because the old strategy isn’t working, but we seem to cling to the old approaches because of an ideological trap. When the causes of problems are not identified honestly valid solutions will not be forthcoming.

  12. Think about this -the left always complains about programs that would take kids out of public schools because they get state and federal money for every student.
    It costs public schools systems way more to educate a kid in public school than it would if you would rebate our school taxes every year for parents wanting a choice and send our kids to private school (or homeschool). The left has no rational argument for not doing so-privates clearly are superior to the vast majority of public schools.
    So what is the left’s reason for preventing educational choice by parents? Money and influence leading to power over kids hearts and minds. Large administrative structures paying huge salaries to those at the top. Educational bureaucrats promoting socialist, immoral, anti-american, anti -authority, anti- family, pro liberal rhetoric. Teachers unions that focus on increasing salaries and funneling donations to the Democrat party. It’s not about the kids or the parents. It’s about stealing our kid’s souls and emptying their minds of any thing good and useful and replacing it with revisionist history and liberal talking points instead of facts and critical thinking skills. And about money and power.

    1. Right you are Tim!! Unions give money to Dems who support abortions!! I told them we should not support killing kids ! They did not listen nor care.

      1. Here in N.C. the annual call is for more tax money for education
        . All the money goes to salaries while the
        Performance of the students gets poorer each year. It is not like the older years where the teachers took an interest in the performance of their student’s. The public is being extorted by the school boards and teachers unions.

  13. II taught in public school for over 30 years, and each year I had to use my personal money to get things necessary in my class. The teachers did the educating and the administration raked in the big bucks! Another problem is the liberal garbage in the textbooks! Kids have NO IDEA of the REAL history of the United States or of their state! The textbooks are filled with liberal agenda…not the TRUTH! And they don’t teach loyalty and patriotism Public schools are too busy trying to be “politically correct” and NOT educating our kids! And some of the teaching methods? The “new” math? What was wrong learning the REAL way to do math which really worked fine when I first started teaching. Again, too much wasted class time being “politically correct” and getting the liberal agenda crammed down their throats rather than teaching them the importance of an education and being able to GET A JOB, make a decent living, be a good citizen, and become a positive influence in their community! And don’t get me started on the colleges! Such a waste of tax-payer’s money….and teaching time for the teachers. Too many “politically correct” hoops to jump through.

    1. I taught for over 30 yrs and witnessed education decline. The last year I served, they told us to turn in all our workbooks-you know those things that give practice so
      kids can LEARN. Well, I did not follow directions, kept mine. My class did real well on the yearly tests.
      For many yrs. no prayer, no Bible reading, no holiday celebrations, no church going at home, break up of the family so kids lose their sense of worth and right from wrong.

  14. II taught in public school for over 30 years, and each year I had to use my personal money to get things necessary in my class. The teachers did the educating and the administration raked in the big bucks! Another problem is the liberal garbage in the textbooks! Kids have NO IDEA of the REAL history of the United States or of their state! The textbooks are filled with liberal agenda…not the TRUTH! And they don’t teach loyalty and patriotism. And some of the teaching methods? The “new” math? What was wrong learning the REAL way to do math which really worked fine when I first started teaching. Again, too much wasted class time being “politically correct” and getting the liberal agenda crammed down their throats rather than teaching them the importance of an education and being able to GET A JOB, make a decent living, be a good citizen, and become a positive influence in their community! And don’t get me started on the colleges! Such a waste of tax-payer’s money….and teaching time for the teachers. Too many “politically correct” hoops to jump through.

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