Posted on September 30, 2011

Do Cities with Higher Education Spending Have Lower Drop-out Rates?

My City Way, September 13, 2011

When it comes to education, few countries spend more per pupil than the U.S., with a national average of $10,499 in 2009, up 2.3 percent from the previous year. In some states, spending is much higher; New York spent $18,126 per student, followed by Washington ($16,408), New Jersey ($16,271), Alaska ($15,552) and Vermont ($15,175).

A big driver for the increases during a time when states were struggling with reduced revenue streams as a result of the recession was more spending on technology in education.


And it’s long been known that more spending per pupil doesn’t necessarily result in smarter kids, regardless of how that money is spent. In New York, which spent more per student than any other state in 2009, 38 percent of schools failed to meet minimum standards set under the federal No Child Left Behind Act. In Utah, which had the lowest spending rate per student at $6,356, 21 percent of schools fell short of the mark.

What’s more, there seems to be little correlation between per-pupil spending and dropout rates. In some cases, schools with some of the highest dropout rates also had the highest per-pupil spending, thanks to state and federal government funding targeted for struggling school districts. In the following table, drop out rate refers to the number of people between the ages of 16 and 19 who were not enrolled in school and did not have a high school diploma in 2009.

Per-Student Spending vs. Drop Out Rates For Selected U.S. School Districts

School District Enrollment Spending per Student Drop Out Rate (%)
Minneapolis 35312  $13,505 3
Columbus, Ohio 53536  $12,813 4
Mesa, Ariz. 70346  $7,912 4
Portland, Ore. 45024  $10,792 4
San Francisco 55183  $9,990 4
Virginia Beach 71554  $10,559 4
El Paso, texas 62322  $8,796 5
Milwaukee 85381  $13,444 5
San Diego 132256  $10,080 5
Boston 55923  $18,858 6
Charlotte, N.C. 17370  $9,059 6
Sacramento, Calif. 48155  $9,782 6
San Jose, Calif. 31918  $9,540 6
Austin, Texas 83483  $9,389 7
District of Columbia 44331  $16,408 7
Fresno, Calif. 76621  $9,415 7
Long Beach, Calif. 87509  $9,155 7
Los Angeles 687534  $11,108 7
Melphis, Tenn/ 111954  $9,178 7
New York City 981690  $19,146 7
Omaha, Neb. 48014  $9,620 7
Philadelphia 159867  $10,828 7
San Antonio 54696  $8,553 7
Tucson, Ariz. 57391  $7,963 7
Atlanta 49032  $13,898 8
Jacksonville, Fla. 1698  $7,787 8
Kansas City 20317  $10,969 8
Louisvilee, Ky. 3289  $7,460 8
Nashville, Tenn. 74312  $9,685 8
Baltimore 82266

8 responses to “Do Cities with Higher Education Spending Have Lower Drop-out Rates?”

  1. Detroit WASP says:


    For some reason they left out the most tragic example of a black school district. Detroit which is 99% black has somewhere between a 50 and 75% dropout rate depending on who you want to believe.

    Michigan2010 spending per student

    Detroit 99% black) $11,896

    Grosse Pointe (rich to middle class white suburb) $11,239

    Sterling Heights (middle class 95% white burb ) $10,430

    Roseville (lower middle class 90% white) $9,444

    Hale High MI (rural country white) $9,215

    Clay Co. KY spending per student $9,941

    Detroit spends more than every school district in the state and more than most in the USA…. and the students BY FAR drop out more and do worse on the SAT. I mean the number are astounding. Even the poor white kids in Clay Co. Kentucky do better than the middle class blacks in Detroit.

  2. Question Diversity says:

    Sorry, but I can’t trust the “official” drop out rate statistics any more than I trust the official unemployment, inflation and crime statistics. There are lots of ways to cover up dropouts — One of the scams that was discovered in Texas is that the district classifies dropouts as being home schooled. The touch that gave it away was that these “home schooled” students were from racial and cultural demographics that weren’t known for home schooling.

  3. sbuffalonative says:

    Up until about 10 years ago, blacks in Buffalo were complaining that suburban schools spent more on their students than the city of Buffalo spent on city students.

    Although I don’t have the numbers, this is no longer true. Buffalo Public Schools now spend more money per student than do suburban schools and blacks no longer have this phantom excuse for black failure.

    It hasn’t made a positive difference. Black failure rates have increased to over 50%.

    It was never about money and it will never be.

  4. John Engelman says:

    College graduates are less likely to commit crimes than high school dropouts. This does not mean that getting the dropouts back into school, and getting them into college will reduce the dropout rate. Basketball players tend to be tall, but playing basketball does not make one tall.

  5. John Engelman says:

    A high dropout rate is something an inner city school should be proud of. It means that standards are not being compromised.

    We often hear that we should raise standards and reduce the dropout rate. Raising standards and reducing the dropout rate is like cutting taxes and balancing the budget. It cannot be done. When standards are raised many students discover that they lack the ability or the drive to meet the standards, so they drop out.

  6. June Warren says:

    I’ve posted this before and I’ll post it again as long as the subject of school spending comes up!

    In our area, West Alabama, the average public school system spends $10,000 or more per student per year. Almost all the schools in these systems are majority black and in some cases 100%. The graduation rates for these schools are abysmal. One of them, Holt High School near Tuscaloosa has a 60% dropout rate. In 2005 at Livingston High (100% black) every girl, (except for one) who made it to the senior class was already a single mother and was receiving public assistance. Some of these schools don’t even have PTAs.

    On the other hand we have a number of private schools, including ones that are are Catholic, Protestant, and secular college prep. These schools spend about $4200 or even less per student per year and get excellent results. Almost all their students graduate and go on to college. These schools have tremendous parental support. They work as volunteers, make school repairs, donate generously to school endowments, and work closely with their children.

  7. Anonymous says:

    Milwaukee is no better than “D-Town”. I think it has the highest teen pregnancy… girls (black of course) 15 -16 yrs. old are having babies, it is common.

  8. SKIP says:

    Perhaps spreading the rumor that there is a NFL or NBA scout sneaking around watching the AFLEETS perform would keep, at least the black males, from dropping…won’t make them any smarter, but it will keep the fed money coming.