The race to the bottom is a tie

Eight states — Arizona, Florida, Illinois, Tennessee, Idaho, Louisiana, Pennsylvania and Utah — claim to rank 49th in education funding, according to a column by Vicki Murray of the Goldwater Institute in the Arizona Republic. It all depends on what’s counted.

For example, Census Bureau rankings include certain capital outlays. The National Education Association’s “Rankings and Estimates” and Education Week’s “Quality Counts” exclude such funding.

Arizona’s ranking also changes considerably depending on how you define education funding. For instance, the Census Bureau ranks Arizona anywhere from 18th to 51st on 20 funding measures. Such variety makes it possible to pick and choose a state’s ranking and then put it under an ominous “education funding” headline.

Via Chris Correa.

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  1. Oh yeah? And where do they rank in test scores as compared to the states near the top?

    I’ll bet the result is more than a little embarassing for some of the heavy-spending states in at least some cases. In fact, I’ll betcha Arizona, Utah, and Idaho don’t have much to be embarassed about, student-achievement wise.

  2. Richard Nieporent says:

    Independent of anything else, ranking is a meaningless measure. Unless every state spends the exact same amount, some state will be ranked first and some state will be ranked last. A better measure would be adequate funding, but of course nobody knows what that is.

  3. An even better measure would be how much education that funding buys.

    After all, what’s the point of spending five dollars if one dollar will buy you the same thing? For the purchaser there’s no benefit. To the vendor though, all sorts of benefit.

  4. Per pupil funding in Arizona is a statistic that can show that we’re in the middle of the pack or near the bottom (or ARE the bottom). Why? We have so many Native American students living on or off our many reservations. They count as Arizona students, but their education is largely a tribal and Federal matter.

    Don’t be fooled: Arizona’s schools suck. But money isn’t the only reason.


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