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Public Education Spending Has Doubled in the Last 15 Years

According to the most recent report released by the National Center for Education Statistics, the amount spent on public education has more than doubled in the last 15 years. Where is the money going?

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Public School Expenditures

School Year Total (in billions)* Per Pupil*
1992-93 $220.9 $5,160
1993-94 $231.5 $5,327
1994-95 $243.9 $5,529
1995-96 $255.1 $5,689
1996-97 $270.2 $5,923
1997-98 $285.5 $6,189
1998-99 $302.9 $6,508
1999-00 $323.9 $6,912
2000-01 $348.4 $7,380
2001-02 $368.4 $7,727
2002-03 $387.6 $8,044
2003-04 $411.2 $8,471
2004-05 $430.2 $8,860
2005-06 $447.4 $9,185
2006-07 $468.0 $9,562
2007-08 $489.4 $9,969

Source: U.S. Department of Education, National Center for Education Statistics

*Current Dollars

The above chart demonstrates actual numbers for previous years and projected expenditures for fall enrollment of public elementary and secondary students in the 2007-2008 school year.

Where is the Money Going?

According to the National Education Association, education funding has not kept pace with increases in enrollment or with the costs of educating a diverse student body and its varied needs.

However, the statistics released by the Department of Education tell a different story. Spending per pupil in public schools tripled in a 30 year period, and has more than doubled in the last 15 years.

Where is all the money going?

It can't be going to the teachers, whose pay increases consistently fail to keep pace with inflation. And it can't be going to reading programs, as the average fourth grader doesn't even have basic reading skills.

Well, here's the answer according to the National Education Association, who released these statistics for the 2005 fiscal year:

Category Amount Spent %
Instruction $259.6 billion 61.1
Support Services $147.6 billion 34.8
Food Services $16.4 billion 3.9
Enterprise Operations $959.5 million 0.2

If taxpayers have funneled an increasing amount of money towards public education in the last century, and the majority is going to instruction, you have to wonder why there have been so few tangible improvements in regards to student performance.


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