When Wyoming decided to spend its natural gas bonanza on public schools in 2006, State Superintendent Jim McBride predicted:
“We probably will have the nation’s No. 1 graduation rate, maybe college attendance rate. We probably will have the highest NAEP scores.”
Spending soared to $16,000 per student with no rise in NAEP scores, writes Matthew Ladner on Jay Greene’s blog. Meanwhile, scores for Florida’s Hispanic students rose to the Wyoming average.
New Jersey also spends $16,000 a year per student, writes Steven Malanga of the Manhattan Institute in the New York Post. As enrollment rose by 3 percent since 2001, staff hiring rose by 14 percent, about one new teacher for every two new students. Increases in wages, health benefits and pension costs have outpaced inflation.
There’s been little educational payoff. Performance on national education-assessment tests has been a mixed bag. On crucial eighth-grade reading tests, for instance, the percentage of Jersey students scoring at or above proficient in 2009 was just 42 percent, up slightly from 38 percent in 2005.
Gov. Chris Christie wants to cut state aid to local schools to balance the budget without more tax hikes. School boards and unions say that will trigger drastic cuts. Christie says schools won’t have to make cuts if unions agree to a “one-year wage freeze and a moderate contribution toward health costs,” Malanga writes.
A teachers’ union local included a joke prayer calling for Christie’s death in its newsletter. The state-level union apologized.