Study: No Connection between School Spending, Student Outcomes

Rob Nikolewski, Fox News, April 7, 2014

For decades, it’s probably the most troublesome question facing education: Why are results for U.S. public school students so mediocre, despite the billions of taxpayer dollars spent?

Andrew Coulson thinks he’s got the answer: Because there is no discernible correlation between spending and outcomes.

“The takeaway from this study is that what we’ve done over the past 40 years hasn’t worked,” said Coulson, director of the Center For Educational Freedom at the CATO Institute. “The average performance change nationwide has declined 3 percent in mathematical and verbal skills. Moreover, there’s been no relationship, effectively, between spending and academic outcomes.”


Coulson just released his study, “State Education Trends: Academic Performance and Spending over the Past 40 Years,” and he points to this chart that incorporates costs and the number of public school employees with student enrollment and test scores:


While spending has just about tripled in inflation-adjusted dollars and the number of school employees has almost doubled since 1970, reading, math and science scores for students have remained stagnant.


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  • Nancy Thomas

    Let me give you a direct quote from a very high level person in the LAUSD, “If we traded teachers with the Beverly Hills District, the outcomes would stay the same for both districts.”

    • Bon, From the Land of Babble

      Do you know who said that, when and where?

      • Nancy Thomas

        Personal conversation between him and me. No way he’d say that in public-he’d lose his job.

        • Bon, From the Land of Babble

          Obviously so.

          A lot of things are said behind closed doors by teachers and administrators just like that – but to keep our jobs we have to pretend otherwise.

  • Luca

    Anything government runs, it usually runs into the ground.

    “If you put the Federal government in charge of the Sahara Desert, in 5-years there’d be a shortage of sand.” – Milton Friedman

    • APaige

      I never get sick of that quote. And it seems from the graph that public education is like most government programs-a job handout program.

    • Strider73

      “Everything the government touches turns to crap.” — Ringo Starr

  • Tom Mixx

    Study: No Connection between School Spending, Student Outcomes
    We’ve known that here in the people’s republic of new jersey for years. It’s called Abbott Schools (Camden, Newark, Paterson, Elizabeth, Long Branch, Trenton, Asbury Park, etc.).

  • Ronald

    Why did it take 40 years to figure this out?

    • dewdly

      The people doing the figuring had very low math scores and an unfounded belief in “opportunity”.

      • Dr. Möbias

        They created a beast with a massive maw that demands constant feeding of White taxpayer monies to keep itself going.

  • Jesse James

    Good for Mr. Coulson, his research should be required reading for all of our legislators at national and state level as well as all the Educationcrats. There is clearly a very clear point of diminishing returns when it comes to school spending and it is high time that we start reining in budgets of our nations education system. This type of research is irrefutable statistically and hopefully it will start percolating into the minds of the people who make our budgetary decisions and those who design our education systems.

  • So CAL Snowman

    Well White men did build airplanes and tanks without fancy computers, the internet, and graphing calculators. Somehow Newton and Leibniz developed calculus without the use of an Ipad, an olympic sized swimming pool, and a headstart program. Funny, it seems that ONLY the non – White hordes require vast amounts of money to become educated.

  • Ed

    The Left already knows this they don’t want money for students, they want it for their clients. What folks don’t know when school closures or cuts are discussed in inner cities it becomes a much bigger thing because of Black churches. A lot of the Black teachers go to churches where politically connected pastors are in charge. So they get their pastors to lean on politicos to lessen the blow of the cuts etc.

    Public schools in the inner city or Black controlled entities are merely jobs programs for the Black middle class. Their students’ education is a minor concern.

    • HamletsGhost

      Very true. I remember reading Michelle Rhee’s book about her stint as head of the D.C. public schools and her doomed efforts to clean out that Augean stable. She would try to close schools without enough students and consolidate them into other schools to save on overhead. She got a firestorm of protest from the local “community” who protested that those schools were a source of jobs for them. Not a word about the abysmal results from them. BTW, D.C. public schools have the HIGHEST per capital spending in the country with some of the lowest scores. No points for guessing why.

  • It’s too bad that the CATO Institute can’t and won’t tell the rest of the story, the truth.

    Instead, it’s busy trying to find a way to roll together open borders and right-libertarian principles, all at the behest of its donors.

  • IstvanIN

    You can not turn a sow’s ear into a silk purse. It really is as simple as that.

    • Kenner

      Or a sowpotamus’ sprog into a sentient being.

  • Moe Moe

    “White Flight” has been and will continue to be the only answer for whites folks, as long as there is land to keep building new white enclaves farther away from the cities. At least you know your tax dollars are going to go toward some decent schools (fairly White, with some Asian & Indian and little black).

    • Strider73

      That is, until a diabolical school board — likely under political pressure – re-draws attendance zones to either put the white enclaves into Bantu-infested schools or send the Bantus to the white enclave schools. Whites must abandon public schools entirely. Either homeschool the kids or create all-white private schools. In the long run that is far less expensive than constantly relocating.

  • Urbane Neanderthal

    Must be evidence of racism.

  • John

    Most of the people on here could have told you this. How much did the taxpayers fork out for a “study” to establish what was evident all along. You can try to teach a dog to sing but all you get out of it is wasted time and a pissed off dog. Put another way, use all the lipstick you want but at the end of the day, a pig is still a pig.

    • saxonsun

      Well, the powers that be know all about black intellectual inferiority. Given that, it is more than possible that actually doing something about this problem by acting according to the truth would cause a social upheaval of catastrophic proportions. Can you imagine if we actually “threw in the towel” racially? No one wants to deal with this.

  • Einsatzgrenadier

    Time to get the government out of the education business and let the free market take over. Johnson’s Great Society reforms are an obvious failure, but liberals will never concede defeat. They will continue wasting more and more money trying to turn uneducable blacks and 3rd world immigrants into rocket scientists.

    • IstvanIN

      The Feds have done the most to destroy public education. It worked fine when it was run by local boards and overseen by the states. Now we not only have a Federal Dept. of Edjumakayion but we have Moochelle telling lunch ladies what they must serve.

    • Dr. Möbias

      That’s what they tell us, but the hidden agenda is to strip whites of any wealth and property they have through confiscatory taxes, to pay for “educating children of color” and inflationary economic policies like printing endless reams of money backed by nothing. At some point, the Piper Must Be Paid, and the price, as in the old story, is our White children who are being sacrificed on the altar of political correctness and White genocide.

  • Bon, From the Land of Babble

    Andrew Coulson thinks he’s got the answer: Because there is no discernible correlation between spending and outcomes.

    Well, how is that possible??

    Children are equal in every way and equally capable of succeeding if only they are given the right education. Every lefty and cultural marxist; knows that.

    They’ll scream that they need MORE money for MORE studies… and the government will print up more money to pay for it all.

    Meanwhile, your smart White child, is told he is the scum of the earth and that his ancestors were nothing more than barbaric tyrants, thieves, rapists, enslavers, warmongers & conquerors with absolutely no redeeming qualities.

    Why are results for U.S. public school students so mediocre, despite the billions of taxpayer dollars spent?

    Because you can’t buy brains, a billions of dollars doesn’t make someone smart…or educated.

  • Erika525

    Today’s education is comparable to agriculture in the 19th century. Its a place to put people of limited ability and without it, the unemployment rate among blacks might be 40% or more. There’s almost no end to the number of people you can hire to “educate” those who cannot learn.

    • IstvanIN

      When I was in grammar school we had 8 teachers, one of whom served as principal, and an office lady and a janitor. Now you have classroom assistants, guards, study teams, social workers and the little black twits still can not learn.

  • TL2014

    But…but…we need to give jobs to all those caring, compassionate single women without a husband who want to devote their life to “helping” somebody else’s children! Where will all these special educators, counselors, and therapists work if we, say, repeal IDEA? How callous of you people! Think of all these ladies who need the work!

    • MBlanc46

      When I was in elementary school back in the Dark Ages, a good share of the teachers were young single women who taught for a few years before getting married. Another group was comprised of what were then called “old maids” or “spinsters”. There were a few married women. What there were almost none of were men. As far as I know, that’s still the case. You can’t have men working with children. Child molestation, you know.


        I had 3 male elementary teachers . . . and their delivery of
        punishment was swift and attention getting… didn’t go to the
        principals office with them …

        • Hallie Eva

          Same here, Polarbear. Our somewhat draconian system did not suffer fools.
          Even grammar was taught with discipline; we diagrammed sentences. Our fourth grade teacher disciplined a girl for splitting an infinitive. In penmanship, failing to finish written words with an upstroke earned stern disapproval. Sister Elizabeth made me write all assigned work on the blackboard to shame me into stop writing cursive with a back hand slant.
          Latin teachers were priests who knew proper Latin; no “church Latin” soft C’s allowed.
          No such animal as ESL existed. If the schools needed musical instruments, books, more this or that, parents dug deep, and supplied it.
          Teachers were of course, unmarried, obsessively dedicated to educating children, with no life outside the classroom other than the Church.
          Not suggesting that school become quite as extreme this, but this I will say: we learned how to read, write, and speak proper English, how to solve problems, plan ahead, understand actions and outcome. This, my friends, is what it takes.
          I did not appreciate how well our small town school educated us until I went to the big Uni where many students were comparatively ill prepared.


          • Sloppo

            I spent a couple of years at a Catholic high school which somewhat resembles what you described. I eventually got booted for not being Catholic enough but I could look back and identify one teacher who made that school better for me than the public school where I finished my last two years of high school. I always felt like that man’s influence caused me to realize my potential in mathematics. I did very well in that subject right through engineering school. Several years after I graduated from high school, I mentioned that excellent teacher’s name to another fellow who had gone to the same school and his eyes got really wide and he blurted out to me that that same teacher had molested him! I promised to never reveal the identity of my victimized friend because he felt shame for this terrible thing that was not his fault. I looked up the teacher on the web a few months ago. He had been accused of molestation and at some time transferred to Alaska if I remember correctly and it also said he died several years ago.

          • r j p

            You just reminded me I need to send a letter to my Montessori school teacher.

          • Dr. Möbias

            The case of the wrestling coach who took down the kid in his classroom while the other students sat around and took videos on their iPhones shows what happens now when teachers try to discipline students. Even Obama and Holder said we cannot suspend blacks no matter what.

            The coach was suspended for trying to protect the other students by getting a drug dealer out of his classroom.

            He learned that it’s better to let the drug dealer sell drugs to children right in the classroom than to try to stop him.

  • Alexandra1973

    I asked my mom recently (she leans a bit to the left) how much it costs to teach someone 2+2=4. She said “Well you need books.”

    I asked what good would books do if certain people refuse to even read them.

  • Petronius

    Despite the enormous wealth that the American taxpayers have poured into their public schools, it has not removed ignorance. Rather –– as we see here –– it has actually increased ignorance. And even in those places where ignorance has arguably been reduced, society has not been uplifted.

    The result of teaching students to read has been to open their minds to Leftist propaganda and indoctrination as much as to truth –– and when it comes to the subjects of literature, history, politics, economics, and other social studies, it is the Leftist propaganda and indoctrination that are clearly in the ascendancy.

    Liberals, in their approach to education, adamantly reject any education in the time-honored traditions, heroes, history (i.e., the true, glorious, and uplifting history), hallowed beliefs, institutions, manners and principles of conduct that our children once got from home, family, and church –– all of those really important things that instill cohesion, pride, and loyalty in the social order. Indeed, these things are treated as errors and prejudices, which it is the duty of the public schools to ferret out and eradicate.

    The universities of the Americas, Europe, India, and the Muslim world have bred more communists and terrorists than all of the slums, sweat-shops, back alleys, hovels, and impoverished rural villages of the entire planet.

    • Dr. Möbias

      That is because the percentage of low IQs and the ignorant have exploded within the American public since the 1965 immigration flood act that opened America’s borders wide open to the third world.

      Maybe the main goal of burdensome taxes we are forced to pay to try to educate bantus and Mexicans isn’t for that at all, maybe the main goal is to strip white of their wealth via punitive taxes in the name of “education.”

      There is no way the government doesn’t know that blacks and browns for the most part are not educable past a very low threshold, which is the way they want it. The dumber, the better they’ll follow government orders, do what they’re told and are open to marxist sloganeering, especially when it comes to attacking white people.

  • Shooga J

    “Do it for the children” is perhaps the BIGGEST lie liberals espouse. Every year, here on Liberal infested Long Island, I see my property taxes go up and up. And the biggest hit is always to the schools. Yet, the students are not getting smarter are they? So where is all that money going? Perhaps to cover the numerous teachers here that are earning 6 figure PENSIONS, no less 6 figure working incomes. Throw in some lifetime medical coverage, more vacation time then any of us could ever imagine, and numerous other “benefits” and guess what you have? Nothing left for the “children”. Shocking.

  • QuinnTheEskimo9

    The old Soviet bosses would be proud. Some call it Hitler’s Revenge.

  • Anon

    I find this study hilarious. Because, as I’ve said repeatedly, the IQ test was not invented and is not a measure of intelligence but a yes/no test for mental defectiveness, created in order to prevent wasting money on people who can not benefit from an education. The problem is, people (that’s WHITE people) do not want to accept that large portions of our population, almost all of whom are black, are simply uneducable. Which is another way of saying that our way of life….a first world society, increasingly high tech, only works for white people. In fact, civilization itself is white. The collective result of white traits and white behavior and allowing non-whites to even exist within our borders is a huge collective drag on the light of civilization itself. Instead, what we want to believe is that individual whites are somehow better than eachother….smarter, more worthy, higher. Newflash….you are not. As in YOU personally are not. You can have a 150 IQ… are exactly the same as someone who is 100 IQ, perhaps a bit more stupid, after all, you probably think IQ is a measure of intelligence white the 100 IQ person is off using his white abilities to do something other than being good at IQ tests……preferably off having sex with his white wife and raising his white children.
    We have a name for this conceit…..refusing to admit what blacks are, while thinking they are better than other whites (in other words devaluing other white people), while really being ignorant of the details and wanting to waste money on all this stupidity.
    It’s called liberalism.

    • Dr. Möbias

      IQ absolutely exists and IQ tests measure it well.

      100 IQs did not invent the technology you are using or land men on the moon, it is those with 130+ IQs who created and invented the first world technology and medicine that the rest of the world uses.

  • JackKrak

    For the Left, this study is just more proof that we haven’t spend ENOUGH

  • John Ulfsson

    What, the human copying machines?

    • Dr. Möbias

      The ones who steal our technology because they do not have the ability to create it themselves, or the one that does well in societies that they did not create, but are hell-bent on destroying, along with those who created it.

  • r j p

    black intelligence can not be bought.
    For everything else the is the EBT card.

  • r j p

    Its been going on for years. Invest in SpEds and let everyone else fight for the few left over dollars.

  • Reverend Bacon

    “Never try to teach a pig to sing. It wastes your time and annoys the pig.” – Robert Heinlein.

    I think we all know what pigs he was talking about. We’ve spent about $100 trillion on this problem in the past 50 years, and we’ve gotten exactly nowhere. Time to cut our losses, I’d say.

  • Dale McNamee

    And a study was needed to tell us what we knew already ? I guess that there was money to waste…

  • Tarczan

    I am not trying to boast, but I began the movement that started a nasty teacher strike in my NE Ohio city. The taxpayers were unaware of the salaries and benefits of the teachers. The compensation of the teachers was broadcast with a few local papers and the internet and a levy was crushed by 9-1 and 8-2 against the increase. The school board was forced to bargain hard with the teachers. Round two will begin in a month or so as the new contract comes up for negotiation.It will be fun. The power of the unions is amazing, they have their hands in everything, but people who know what the costs are just will not vote higher taxes. Fortunately we don’t have many darkies, and the comment was made during the strike that the teachers would not be so proud of the students if they were in Cleveland.

    • r j p

      Nice job.

    • William_JD

      The problem isn’t teachers’ salaries; it’s the absurd number of administrators and other non-teachers.

  • Bill

    Yup. Seventh grade the sprogs begin to fail, fall behind, and run into the wall of their mean IQ. From 7th grade on, those who move on were pushed along through the grades only through fudging scores. Many just mentally drop out because they aren’t allowed to physically drop out, though many do that, also. Those who remain in class and have mentally dropped out turn to disrupting the class, acting out, or otherwise attempting to keep everybody at their level.

  • GeneticsareDestiny

    If most blacks could be educated at a 7th grade level we’d live in a better world than we do now. I went to school with a lot of them. A large chunk, easily half and possibly more, have already completely clocked out and are essentially finished learning everything they will ever learn.

    By 7th grade a good portion of them are just marking time until they can drop out.

  • M&S

    Why stay public?
    You are exactly the kind of guy who needs to get into a rural or suburban environment where whites own property wholesale and will trade you a home to live in and a car to drive for perhaps a slightly lower paycheck and a chance to teach in an all-white, school-in-basement, environment where you can provide an education whose only ‘agenda’ is one of excellence.
    This would begin by learning the fundamentals over an intense period of 3-4 years, deep immersion, (2 classes per day, 1-2hrs per class, 5 days per week, 52 weeks per year).
    And continue on through complete data sets of literacy, history, math and sciences, branching students off into pre-college level aptitudes and preferences based on GPA.
    If you are white, competent and dedicated, it is men and women like you who will hold the legacy of our once superb education system in place because if you can teach high school you can teach the younger grades and by doing so in a fast track environment, you can compress the learning down to a tighter, richer, interval system before -mentoring- for students going into college course prestudies and helping them audit online those collegiate programs which advance their interests.
    While having authority to tell parents that Little Joey has real talent with his hands and his eyes and directing them to sustainable, tech training.
    It would be a condition where you were teaching 5-10 students per class using an interactive (self-leveling) PC type work station which fed into a college where grad students looking to kill some 0’s on their loans could act as ‘chat’ enabled student tutors and you could act as a group monitor with more generalist (psychometrics) skills and one or two specialties.
    If we are going to recover from this miasma we _absolutely_ cannot afford to ‘run with the herd’ on a service economy mindset and pretend that the generation we bring up under Common Core will be anything but drooling morons.
    To be competitive is to be teaching our children at the capacity levels they need to be challenged at so that they don’t enter a university environment completely unready.
    It’s not enough to fight the civil war as secession I see coming. We must, absolutely, be ready to jump back into a First World condition of high skills labor and industrial engineering capacity, second to none.
    That can ONLY begin, ONLY for whites, in the very K-12 range where we are allowed to maintain our half of the social contract that there will be training sufficient for our young people to be competitive.
    ‘Common Core’ cannot possibly be an element in this pursuit of excellence.
    Which means wholesale abandonment of the Public Education System.