Poverty and school funding matter

Published 12:00 am Thursday, August 2, 2012

From the blog of Chris Fitzsimon, director of N.C. Policy Watch:
The correlation between state spending and student performance is strong and undeniable. Most of the states with the highest achieving students on national tests spend far more per capita on education than states with the lowest achieving students on the tests.
The five states with the highest reading scores on the 2009 National Assessment of Education Progress (NAEP) tests were all in the top 15 in per pupil expenditure the previous year. Four were in the top 10.
The states at the low end of the test score rankings were also near the bottom in education spending.
It’s not that poor students can’t learn as well. All things being equal, they can. But things are not equal. Many students from low-income families struggle with things that middle class students take for granted, enough food to eat, a quiet place to sleep, the chance to see a dentist or a doctor when they need one, and a parent with time to help them with their homework every night. …
Our state currently ranks 42nd in the nation in per-pupil expenditures and that was before lawmakers cut $190 million more this year. That’s not throwing money at a problem. That’s denying a basic level of funding to our schools that other states provide.
In case you are wondering about the other defense of the recent budget cuts, that our public education system has been top heavy with administrators, that’s simply not true.
An annual report from the Annie Casey Foundation released recently says that 25 percent of children in the state live in poverty, one of the higher rates in the country.
Data from the U.S. Census Bureau shows that in 2009-2010 North Carolina spent less per pupil on general education administration than all but three states in the country.
… Let’s adequately fund our schools and help low-income families. That would be true education reform.

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