Does money matter in education? In a word, yes.

I have never understood the disagreement over whether money matters in education.

Top private schools – the ones that cater to the children of highly educated parents – charge tuition two to three times higher than the average per pupil spending at the local public schools. And these private schools serve students with every possible learning advantage, kids nurtured to excel from the first sonogram. The elite schools charge $17,000 to $25,000 a year in tuition and hit parents up for donations on a regular basis.

???????????????????Money pays for more teachers, better programs and extra enrichment. Readers routinely cite exceptions, the inner city charter school that is thriving on standard public school spending. But often times, extra dollars are flowing into these exceptions through corporate and community donations.

There are some schools that become missions for those who work there, so a lot of unpaid labor doesn’t get reflected in the spending ledgers. I am not sure schools — or any entity –can rely on a model of funding that counts on noblesse oblige.

Despite some restored state funding, Georgia schools remain at a deficit overall. As the Georgia Budget & Policy institute documents, the latest state budget still calls $166 million in austerity cuts to public schools, forcing at least 40 districts to continue to furlough teachers. “Our schools are still trying to escape the recession shadow,” says GBPI Deputy Director of Policy Tim Sweeney.

And school districts are still shouldering $400 million in health insurance costs for non-certified employees after the state stopped paying the bill in 2012. That is not likely to change as the AJC’s James Salzer reported:

Deal announced 3 percent pay raises last week, the largest state-funded increases teachers have seen since before the recession. What he didn’t mention is that the bill for health insurance for noncertified employees such as bus drivers and cafeteria workers is going up again, likely costing school districts almost $61 million annually if the increase is approved by lawmakers.

That comes on top of a $100 million increase for districts this year to pay for coverage for more than 20,000 part-time school workers and their dependents. Deal had proposed to cut insurance for those part-time school employees, even though part-time state legislators are covered by the State Health Benefit Plan.

With that background, I am sharing the executive summary of the Albert Shanker Institute’s updated “Does Money Matter in Education?” report by Rutgers professor Bruce Baker. In the report, Baker reviews the relationship between K-12 education spending and academic outcomes.

Before I get to the summary, I want to first feature an excerpt from the report itself that speaks to the performance pay debate underway in Georgia. This is from a long section of the report that deals with the debate over teacher salary structures.

To summarize, despite all the uproar about paying teachers based on experience and education, and its misinterpretations in the context of the “Does money matter?” debate, this line of argument misses the point. To whatever degree teacher pay matters in attracting high-quality educators into the profession and retaining them, it’s less about how they are paid than how much. Furthermore, the average salaries of the teaching profession, with respect to other labor market opportunities, can substantively affect the quality of entrants to the teaching profession, applicants to preparation programs and student outcomes. Diminishing resources for schools can constrain salaries and reduce the quality of the labor supply. Further, salary differentials between schools and districts might help to recruit or retain teachers in high-need settings. In other words, resources used for teacher quality matter.

Now, here is the executive summary:

This second edition policy brief revisits the long and storied literature on whether money matters in providing a quality education. It includes research released since the original brief in 2012 and covers a handful of additional topics. Increasingly, political rhetoric adheres to the unfounded certainty that money doesn’t make a difference in education, and that reduced funding is unlikely to harm educational quality. Such proclamations have even been used to justify large cuts to education budgets over the past few years. These positions, however, have little basis in the empirical research on the relationship between funding and school quality.

Does money Matter? Yes. On average, aggregate measures of per-pupil spending are positively associated with improved or higher student outcomes. The size of this effect is larger in some studies than in others, and, in some cases, additional funding appears to matter more for some students than for others.

Clearly, there are other factors that may moderate the influence of funding on student outcomes, such as how that money is spent. In other words, money must be spent wisely to yield benefits. But, on balance, in direct tests of the relationship between financial resources and student outcomes, money matters.

Do schooling resources that cost money matter? Yes. Schooling resources that cost money, including smaller class sizes, additional supports, early childhood programs and more competitive teacher compensation (permitting schools and districts to recruit and retain a higher-quality teacher workforce), are positively associated with student outcomes. Again, in some cases, those effects are larger than in others, and there is also variation
 by student population and other contextual variables. On the whole, however, the things that cost money benefit students, and there is scarce evidence that there are more cost-effective alternatives.

Do state school finance reforms matter? 
Yes. Sustained improvements to the level and distribution of funding across local public school districts can lead to improvements in the level and distribution of student outcomes. While money alone may not be the answer, more equitable and adequate allocation of financial inputs to schooling provide a necessary underlying condition for improving the equity and adequacy of outcomes. The available evidence suggests that appropriate combinations of more adequate funding with more accountability for its use may be most promising.

While there may in fact be better and more efficient ways to leverage the education dollar toward improved student outcomes, we do know the following:

•Many of the ways in which schools currently spend money do improve student outcomes.

•When schools have more money, they have greater opportunity to spend productively. When they don’t, they can’t.

•Arguments that across-the-board budget cuts will not hurt outcomes are completely unfounded.

In short, money matters, resources that cost money matter, and a more equitable distribution of school funding can improve outcomes. Policymakers would be well-advised to rely on high-quality research to guide the critical choices they make regarding school finance.

 

Reader Comments 0

124 comments
dcdcdc
dcdcdc

As usual, this Eduacracy talking point completely misses the point.  And somehow manages to avoid the elephant in the room - the tripling of per student spending in the last 40 years (after inflation), with absolutely no improvement in student performance.  


But we need more of this strategy - jeez, no wonder no one (other than Dem pols who are beholden to the teacher's union donations) are listening to that idiocy anymore.


There is only one place in public schools that needs more money - the paychecks of our best teachers.  Who need to know they are appreciated, and see that the results they are delivering are being recognized (via financial reward) - and that they aren't just paid the same as the awful teacher down the hall, regardless of how much incredible work they do.


But the funding for this needs to come out of the paychecks of those in the eduacracy who are not delivering value.  By better use of the massive increase in funding, not by taking even more money from the taxpayers.

OriginalProf
OriginalProf

@MaryElizabethSings @dcdcdc 

But, as dcdcdc has posted proudly in the past, his wife is a public school teacher---which is supposed to give him a special knowledge. Also a special eloquence in the penultimate paragraph here.

Bitcoined
Bitcoined

And you have zero experience as a K-12 teacher, as you've admitted in the past. But lots of opinions.

Starik
Starik

@Bitcoined There was a study reported in the NYT a few years ago... the people with the highest self confidence were the people with the least competence.  They were incompetent to recognize their own incompetence. 


Why should a good teacher and a bad one receive the same pay?  Why should a bad one work in the field at all?

dcdcdc
dcdcdc

@Bitcoined Right..the usual approach by the eduacracy 1) send us more money, and 2) Shut up because you aren't an educator.


How's that working out of you guys....:)


Guess it really is hard to actually explain a tripling of funding per student, with nothing - nothing - to show for it.  


But you should send us MORE MONEY


Still waiting....

dcdcdc
dcdcdc

@MaryElizabethSings @dcdcdc You are right, I worked in the business world, where more valuable employees got paid more.  Might be an idea to try in education as well.

OriginalProf
OriginalProf

@Bitcoined 

Obviously, no training as a K-12 teacher. But I've been reading this blog since I retired several years ago and have been "Schooled"; I have had friends who are K-12 teachers, including colleagues in the College of Education; I had many Education students in my classes; and I keep up with the news. Everyone has opinions--even you.

dcdcdc
dcdcdc

@OriginalProf @MaryElizabethSings @dcdcdc Ahh, Originalprof, you might work on your reading comprehension.  She WAS a teacher, until she got tired of getting paid less than the teachers down the hall whose classes got smaller as parents insisted their kids get moved into her class.  Semester after semester.  A bigger workload, for less money.  


Was being the operative word.  The best only will stay around so long if they aren't rewarded.  And once they leave, we are left with ...how shall I say it...the non-best....


But merit pay for the best teachers is such a terrible idea....say all the "not best" teachers

OriginalProf
OriginalProf

@Starik @Bitcoined 

Logical fallacy: reversal of terms proves nothing. Here, having high confidence does not prove anything about competence, since high competence can just as well lead to high confidence. (I post primarily on higher education issues, and those where I have experience and research knowledge, such as black-white racial relations.)

dcdcdc
dcdcdc

@dcdcdc @MaryElizabethSings Oh, and btw, the fact that the eduacracy can't grasp this idea is one of the key reasons they will never be successful fixing public education.  In spite of the tripling of per student funding.  



OriginalProf
OriginalProf

@dcdcdc @OriginalProf @MaryElizabethSings 

Don't blame my reading comprehension then, but my memory. Have you gone into all that in former posts?  Also, then your wife's knowledge of the field really is knowledge of her field at the time she left it. 

Education seems like a constantly changing field, in terms of its teaching realities as well as its theories. My sympathies to your wife, btw.  And I don't need to be a K-12 teacher to see all of the problems with the notion of merit pay for teachers!

JBBrown1968
JBBrown1968

@dcdcdc @Bitcoined A great example of where the lions share of the money is going is today's featured article. Number 2 in department of ed has number 2 for brains! Please don't send anymore money, just keep your children at home! HAHAHHAHHAH....another Department of Education recruit! HAHHHHAHAH!

dcdcdc
dcdcdc

@OriginalProf @dcdcdc @MaryElizabethSings Tripling?  I doubt it.  


Seems more like lots of additional bureaucracy.  Without any actual value add or positive results.  


But what do I know...I'm not a teacher :)

MaryElizabethSings
MaryElizabethSings

@dcdcdc 

Your punitive approach to human development culminates in your bitter last paragraph.  You are no educator.

OriginalProf
OriginalProf

@dcdcdc @MaryElizabethSings 

Don't you think that a good part of that "tripling" might be due to the changing student population that now includes many more Special Education and ELL students? Special training by the teacher and more parapros are required for both groups.

class80olddog
class80olddog


And if we just give you a bunch more money, what would you do with it?  Give all teachers a big raise first of all - the good and the bad.  Will that raise graduation rates in the poorest schools?  NO!  Cutting class sizes might help some, but if you still don't give teachers a good way to deal with discipline, does it matter if they have 30 or 15 in a classroom?  What will money do to ease the burden of truancy?  Will money all of a sudden do away with social promotion, and kids in class that are three grades behind? I agree with the poster who says look at existing schools - there is NO correlation between spending and student performance - some of the best schools spend $8000 per student, and some of the worst schools spend $12000 per student.  It ain't about the money, honey!


dcdcdc
dcdcdc

@class80olddog Come on now...we've seen such amazing results from the incredibly massive increase in funding for education over the last 40 years (tripling of per student funding after inflation).


Oh wait...you mean we haven't?  In fact, the results haven't improved at all?


Wow

Bitcoined
Bitcoined

If it were just a matter of money, wouldn't the Washington, D.C. public schools be leading the nation in test scores and satisfied parents?

Those private schools elites like the Obamas send their kids to are free to hire and fire teachers, change curriculum and otherwise innovate.

As elsewhere in the free market.

Reality Check here
Reality Check here

Name an endeavor where money doesn't matter. Of course it matters. But other things matter too and maybe more. Teachers have been burdened by legal requirements and proscribed methodologies and bureaucratic BS that usually doesn't make sense. Parents with money can make sure that their kids who want to work hard and get a great education can in Georgia whether it is in public or private school. I would not let any bureaucrat tell me what to do. I haven't met one yet who had the well being of my children at heart to the extent I do. I have zero confidence in government officials. They can earn my trust but start out with two strikes.

.


DJCD
DJCD

In our county the money that will be sent for the 3% "teacher raise" will now be used by our local board and superintendent to off-set the bus drivers, cafeteria workers, and custodial workers cut in health insurance by the state. Fundamentally we have a lack of leadership, Gov. Deal has used his metaphor pointing out our ship is still leaking but he fails to recognize he and the DOE are the captains driving the ship into the rocks.

AvgGeorgian
AvgGeorgian

@DJCD

When it comes to education, many political "captains" don't know their transom from a whirlpool.

Wascatlady
Wascatlady

"Deal announced 3 percent pay raises last week, the largest state-funded increases teachers have seen since before the recession."


I'm still confused by this.  How can it be a PAY RAISE if not reflected on the salary schedule?

AvgGeorgian
AvgGeorgian

@Wascatlady


It is not a raise. It is a an election year trick. Anyone calling it a raise is in on the trick or gullible/naive enough to repeat it.

jerryeads
jerryeads

I had to smile at Sweeney's comment that we're still trying to escape the recession shadow. We're actually still trying to escape the previous governor's shadow - $7.6 billion stolen from the schools - much of it before the recession was even a glimmer of pet projects like state-funded personal paved driveways put on the backs of our kids. That's about an entire year's state school funding. And we're still handing austerity cuts to schools (call it what it is: stealing candy from babies) while the legislators we elect are calling for more tax cuts.

Much of that burden, of course, falls on poor rural areas with tiny local tax bases. The same ones with no jobs, no health insurance and, increasingly, no hospitals.

You'd think we'd eventually figure out too many people we're sending downtown to line their pockets with lobbyist bribes don't give a rat about the people who actually send them there, but I guess that's why legislators like to keep the schools poor - and keep people ill-educated and gullible enough to keep sending them there.

MaryElizabethSings
MaryElizabethSings

@jerryeads 

Right on target!  Thanks very much for stating exactly what is happening politically in this state relative to public education, specifically.

I'll go further:  The Republican national agenda is one which reinforces this stealthy use of taxpayers funds in order to transform traditional public schools to schools run by corporate interests.  Citizens, wake up, please.  I realize that very few white Georgians have voted for Democrats in decades, but if you care about the continuation of public education - for the masses of people and not for corporations and their profits on the backs of teachers and students - you will change your voting habits (at least for awhile) and vote for more Democrats. Republicans are in power today in Georgia because they have successfully used the political tactic of 'divide and conquer,' but their interests have been centered on serving the very wealthy and accruing personal wealth for themselves, imho.  There is a big difference, at the present time, in the goals of the two political parties in Georgia. Please see that fact and vote accordingly.

Lee_CPA2
Lee_CPA2

@jerryeads

First of all, this is TAXPAYER'S money, not the schools.  Nobody is "stealing" anything.  Most likely, what you are referring to is when the government calculates an annual increase in expenditures and then REDUCES THE AMOUNT OF INCREASE.  Makes for great press releases when the hysterics exclaim they are "slashing" spending.  


The government appropriates and expends.  If you go back to conduct a more comprehensive analysis, say back to 1990 which would give you a 25 year trend, you would see state expenditures trending upward until 2010 or so when it flattens out.  Even considering inflation and the increase in population, the state is outspending what it did twenty five years ago.


You've got the data.  Post it from 1990 and let's take a look at it.

AvgGeorgian
AvgGeorgian

@Lee_CPA2


Please tell us the things just white people have in common that has been helped by the republican led government and could not have been helped by a democrat led government.

MaryElizabethSings
MaryElizabethSings

@Lee_CPA2 

From my post below:

"Georgia has never fully embraced this egalitarian American concept, and that fact is showing up today in how our Republican leaders in Georgia are controlling the taxpayers' money, and thus the education, stealthily, of the education of the wealthy in Georgia at the expense of the education of the poor.  This is not egalitarianism."

JBBrown1968
JBBrown1968

@Travelfish zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz!

JBBrown1968
JBBrown1968

@Travelfish I thought this blog was for the self important parents to whine! My little Johnny would never do that! HAHAHAHAHAHAHHA!

Travelfish
Travelfish

There's an AJC blog specially for you yellow-dog Democrats. It's Jay Bookman's.

This one's supposed to be for teachers' union shills.

PJ25
PJ25

@MaryElizabethSings @jerryeads I'm white and I don't care about that abortion called the public school system. Stop trying to make it political you old hack. 

Wascatlady
Wascatlady

@MaryElizabethSings @Lee_CPA2 The 60s comedian, Brother Dave Gardner, said, "Prejudice isn't black and white. It's GREEN, because if you don't have lots of green you are a second-class citizen anywhere in the world."

Bitcoined
Bitcoined

MaryLiz, what we're all aware of is that you have a poor grasp of reality and a medically questionable obsession about ALEC.

MaryElizabethSings
MaryElizabethSings

@Bitcoined 

". . .what we're all aware of. . ."

+++++++++++++++++++++++++

Have the courage to speak for yourself, alone.  Your posts reflect the childishness of trying to use a "bandwagon" tactic to boost your own thinking.

Carlos_Castillo
Carlos_Castillo

Money matters except where teachers aren't respected and are unable to enforce order in their classrooms.  Smaller classes certainly make it easier for a teacher to maintain order.


The tools to maintain order in many classes are so feeble that the kids never even learn to take notes.  When they or their parents complain, administrators leary of career freezing "noise" side with the kids and their parents.


This is probably why there's still corporal punishment in some schools.  What do you do with a student who habitually defies a and cusses out his or her teachers?    Suspend them to what will probably be a multi-day unsupervised vacation?   Take them out of class to sit by themselves, so that they return unprepared for what the class is covering by the time they return?


What's happening in too many instances, now, is that the disruptive students are left in the classroom, so that nobody else learns, either.


Hence the stratospheric attrition rate for new teachers.


It's tragic, but what I would expect the first money to go for in the worst schools is CCTV, so that a) what happens in a classroom can't be contradicted either by the student or their parents and b) administrators have unimpeachable evidence to justify discipline.
















Wascatlady
Wascatlady

@Carlos_Castillo Afraid there will be all kinds of objections due to "student privacy laws."  However, cameras are allowed on buses.  What I have seen with those are that parents still DENY their kid did anything, even after seeing the video!  True!

Travelfish
Travelfish

Cameras in classrooms? The NEA would file an amicus curiae brief on behalf of students claiming privacy rights -- while continuing to pose as the champions of teachers in discipline issues.

As always.