Tag Archives: school funding

FY 2015 Census Bureau Data on Public School Spending In New York: Robbed, Sneered At, Resented and Sued

If you live in New York State, there is a lawsuit that claims you have it too good. Your taxes are too low, despite being the highest in the country at the state and local level combined, and too much money is being spent on public services other than public schools, such as mass transit, social services, housing, parks, libraries, everything else. The lawsuit has been filed by the Alliance for Quality Education (AQE), funded in part by the United Federation of Teachers (UFT), New York City’s teachers’ union, and the NYSUT, the New York State teacher’s union. It claims that New York State residents have stolen $billions for people working in New York’s schools each and every year for more than a decade. And that as a result we are getting what we deserve: schools that are so bad that at least in New York City and Syracuse, they violate the state constitution.

Of course the AQE is claiming it is suing “the state,” not the people who live in it.   But where would “the state” get the additional $billions that those working in education demand be spent on schools? From higher taxes and lower spending on other things, that’s where. The same place that the additional spending on schools that has happened in the past came from. And note that while the claim is that the schools are bad, there is no admission that perhaps that New Yorkers are being cheated by those who work for the public schools. Instead the assertion is the other way around – that those who work in the schools are being cheated by New Yorkers, because they aren’t being given the money they deserve. But how much are the schools getting getting? Let’s go to the Census Bureau’s public education finance data and find out.

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Why The Powerful Will Never Allow New York State’s School Funding Equity Problem to be Solved

In 1997, according to education finance data from the U.S. Census Bureau, New York City spent $9,371 per student on public schools, which is $13,405 adjusted for inflation into $2012. The average for the downstate suburban counties, similarly adjusted, was much higher at $17,550, but there were differences within the suburbs. The wealthy Great Neck school district spent a stunning $24,510 per student while the less wealthy Elmont district spent just $11,468. “Level up” was the cry of the Campaign for Fiscal Equity Lawsuit at time. Even though New York’s overall school spending was high, any shift of resources from rich districts to poor ones would be a despised “Robin Hood” plan. The state’s schools, it was said, needed more money overall.

So what happened? In 2012 according to the same data source, New York City spent $22,884 per student, nearly as much as Great Neck had spent in 1997 (NYC is spending more, much more than that, now). The average for the downstate suburbs also increased, to $23,914 per student — only slightly more than New York City. Struggling Elmont was also spending more at $19,081 per student, less than the average for the suburbs in 2012 but more than the average for the suburbs in 1997, the spending amount advocates claimed needed to be “leveled up” too. But Great Neck’s spending had soared further, to $28,571 per student, or nearly $10,000 per student more than Elmont. Yet to the teacher’s union, the advocates, and the New York Times, it as if the huge increase in per student spending from 1997 to 2012 never occurred. Despite the fact that the average school spending per child was just $16,076 in Massachusetts in 2012, the Times recently claimed comparatively low spending in poorer districts is the “central crisis in New York State education.” But that is a crisis that the teacher’s union, the advocates, and the Times – and districts like Great Neck – don’t want solved.


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