Oklahoma has the fourth-lowest per-pupil spending in the country, according to data released Thursday by the U.S. Census Bureau.
Oklahoma spent $7,896 per student in fiscal year 2010, compared to the $10,615 national average.
“It's disappointing,” said Linda Hampton, president of the Oklahoma Education Association. “We've got to do better.”
Oklahoma only spent more than Utah ($6,064), Idaho ($7,106) and Arizona ($7,848).
Washington, D.C., spent the most: $18,667.
“If you look at academic results, per-pupil spending doesn't necessarily correlate to good academic results,” said Damon Gardenhire, a spokesman for the state Education Department. “Most people would agree Washington, D.C., is ... very challenged academically.”
Gardenhire said lawmakers, educators and the public need to have a conversation about how to efficiently and effectively spend public money on education.
“How can we maximize the dollars we do have already and then are there areas we can target where we can get the most bang for the buck?” he said. “A scattershot approach is not going to get us where we need to be as a state.”
But, extracurricular activities and noncore subjects suffer because of low spending, Hampton said. The number of teachers has decreased while the number of students is increasing, she said.
“When you combine all this,” she said, “it places all the burden squarely on the backs of Oklahoma students.”
AT A GLANCE
Largest state districts
Per-pupil spending in districts with 10,000 students or more:
Tulsa Union: $6,924.
Putnam City: $7,116.
Midwest City-Del City: $7,390.
Oklahoma City: $8,252.
• National average: $10,615.
When you combine all this, it places all the burden squarely on the backs of Oklahoma students.”