Americans Are Clueless About Education Spending

Ashikavinod | Tuesday, November 1, 2016 9:50 AM IST

Americans spend about $11,000. But only 15% of respondents to a new poll could estimate the correct range of per-pupil spending. That’s according to a study released this month by EdChoice, the new name of the Friedman Foundation for Educational Choice.

The “2016 Schooling in America Survey: Public Opinion on K–12 Education and School Choice” also finds that 9% of respondents say “education” is the most important issue facing the nation. That’s down from 17% in last year’s survey. The issues named as top priorities are “economy and jobs” (33%) and healthcare (12%). Immigration, values, crime, taxes, environment and housing all finished in the single digits.

Of course, some districts go way over that national average. In the Hoboken, N.J., school district, the cost per-pupil is nearly double the average, at $23,561. School administrators and the majority on the elected school board argue that the tax levy has to go up about 4% to cover new costs. Like? Nine new teachers at a high school that has lost 20% enrollment over the past 5 years.

When asked how much they thought was being spent in the nation’s public schools, about 21% of respondents to the poll pegged it at $4,000 or less per student. Another 26% couldn’t even make a guess.

Respondents tended to under-estimate spending. Those who were given the actual figures, however, were less like to say it is “too low.”

Another finding in the survey is that 62% of Americans believe K-12 education is on the “wrong track,” which is up from 60% last year. On the other hand, 24% say education is headed in the “right direction,” down from 32% last year.