Spending and graduation rates aren’t correlated, writes Dan Walters in the Sacramento Bee. citing Manhattan Institute data.
New Jersey tops all states, according to a recent Census Bureau report of 2003-04 data, in per-pupil school spending at $12,981 and also, as mentioned earlier, is tops in high school graduation rates. But beyond that, the correlation completely collapses. New York, for example, is second in per-pupil spending at $12,930 but is 47th in graduation rate at 58 percent. Conversely, Utah, dead last in spending at $5,008, is 14th in graduation rate at 77 percent.
. . . Clearly, money alone is not the panacea that advocates in the educational community would have us believe. Other factors – ethnicity, peer pressure, families, culture, English proficiency, curriculum, instructional quality, etc. – evidently play powerful roles in determining whether students make it through high school and thus acquire the fundamental basis for successful adult lives.
California districts with above-average graduation rates have above-average numbers of white and Asian-American students, Walters notes. San Francisco does much better than Los Angeles, which has a higher percentage of Hispanic and black students.
An education researcher once told me he’d tried to calculate how much spending would be needed to equalize the differences between the children of poor, uneducated single mothers and kids from educated, middle-class, two-parent families. He thought it could be done for absurd sums — basically a private tutor for every disadvantaged child.