Share “Think tank official: More spending won't...”

Think tank official: More spending won't boost school A-F report cards

BY BRANDON DUTCHER Published: December 21, 2012

It won't, and economist Ben Scafidi points to one reason why. On Oct. 28 in The Oklahoman, he noted that over the past two decades “the number of public school students in Oklahoma increased 9.7 percent. Meanwhile, teachers' numbers grew by 23.7 percent while administrators and other nonteaching staff experienced a growth rate of 27.5 percent.”

Look at it this way. According to the Oklahoma Office of Accountability, there are 18 students in Johnny's classroom. Multiply that number by $8,301 (Oklahoma's per-student expenditure) and you end up with $149,418 for that classroom. Now subtract $44,094, which is the salary for Johnny's teacher. The difference is $105,324.

Where is that money going?

As I never tire of repeating, inflation-adjusted, per-pupil spending (both nationwide and in Oklahoma) marches inexorably upward, while student performance remains flat at unacceptably low levels. This is, in the words of the Cato Institute's Andrew Coulson, “a productivity collapse unparalleled in any other field of human enterprise.”

“If music players had suffered the same cost/performance trends,” he says, “we'd all still be lugging around cassette boom boxes, but they'd now cost almost $1,800.”

Dutcher is vice president for policy at the Oklahoma Council of Public Affairs, a free-market think tank.