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Do We Really Need to Spend More on Schools?, by Paul E. Peterson

Do We Really Need to Spend More on Schools?, by Paul E. Peterson

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Published by Hoover Institution
Appeared in WSJ on August 5, 2011
Appeared in WSJ on August 5, 2011

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Published by: Hoover Institution on Aug 09, 2011
Copyright:Attribution Non-commercial

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04/06/2014

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Paul E. Peterson
 
 
Do We Really Need to Spend More on Schools? 
Hoover Institution
Stanford University
by Paul E. Peterson
August 5, 2011Even as the president was signing the debtlimit bill designed to cut spendingthis week, he insisted on continuing “to keep making key investments in thingslike education.” Don’t be surprised i the president and his allies reiterate this callor more spending in the nation’s schools, which they argue is necessary i ourstudents are to remain competitive.At rst glance, the public seems to agree with this position. In a survey releasedthis week by Education Next, an education research journal, my colleaguesand I reported that 65% o the public wants to spend more on our schools. Theremaining 35% think spending should either be cut or remain at current levels. That’s the kind o polling data that the president’s political advisers undoubtedlyrely upon when they decide to appeal or more education spending.Yet the political reality is more complex than those numbers suggest. When thepeople we surveyed were told how much is actually spent in our schools—$12,922per student annually, according to the most recent government report—thenonly 49% said they want to pony up more dollars. We discovered this by randomlysplitting our sample in hal, asking one hal the spending question cold turkey,while giving the other hal accurate inormation about current expenditure.Later in the same survey, we rephrased the question to bring out the act thatmore spending means higher taxes. Specically, we asked: “Do you think that taxesto und public schools around the nation should increase, decrease or stay aboutthe same?” When asked about spending in this way, which addresses the tax issuerankly, we ound that only 35% support an increase. Sixtyve percent oppose theidea, saying instead that spending should either decrease or stay about the same. The majority also doesn’t want to pay more taxes to support their local schools.Only 28% think that’s a good idea.So there is the nation’s debt crisis in a nutshell. I people aren’t told that nearly$13,000 is currently being spent per pupil, or i they aren’t reminded that there isno such thing as a ree lunch, they can be persuaded to think schools should bespending still more. The public is not altogether oolish about such matters. They know that schools areunderperorming. When asked what percentage o ninth graders graduate romhigh school within our years, they accurately estimate, on average, that only 72%
A WALL STREET JOURNAL OP-ED
Do We Really Need to Spend More on Schools?

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Hoover Institution added this note
This is a recent WSJ op-ed piece by Senior Fellow Paul E. Peterson. A member of the Task Force on K–12 Education, Dr. Peterson's current research efforts include evaluating the effectiveness of school reform plans around the country. See his related works The Future of School Choice http://bit.ly/plUWID and Our Schools & Our Future: Are We Still At Risk? http://bit.ly/oIkBwQ
Hoover Institution added this note
This is a recent WSJ op-ed piece by Senior Fellow Paul E. Peterson. A member of the Task Force on K–12 Education, Dr. Peterson's current research efforts include evaluating the effectiveness of school reform plans around the country. See his related works The Future of School Choice http://bit.ly/plUWID and Our Schools & Our Future: Are We Still At Risk? http://bit.ly/oIkBwQ

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