by William LaJeunesse | April 11, 2011
By most measures, America's education system ranks among the best. Our classrooms, computer labs, athletic fields and 'enrichment programs' for under-achieving and special education students are the envy of the world.
In fact, the U.S. spends more on education than defense. [Don't forget state spending] On a per pupil basis, we rank only behind Switzerland and Norway.
And that's not likely to change under President Obama. His 2012 budget increases federal education spending by 21 percent to $77 billion dollars.
Yet critics say that's a mistake, since there is no link between spending and student performance.
"There really is no correlation between spending per pupil and achievement per pupil," argues Neal McClusky with the Cato Institute Center for Educational Freedom. "Both parties have done this for many decades - they talk about spending money on schools as if that is synonymous with actually educating people but it isn't. What we've seen that money go to is just bigger and bigger staff, better paid teachers or other employees but nothing in terms of outcomes."
Since 1985, federal education spending tripled, yet studies by the National Assessment of Educational Progress show reading, math and science scores remained flat. Internationally, our 8th graders rank 14th in reading, 17th in science and 25th in math. Almost 30 percent of our teenagers don't finish high school, according to the National Center for Education Statistics, and half who enter college drop out, even though per pupil spending nationally averages more than $10,000 a year. America has fallen to 9th in the proportion of young people with a college degree.