Twenty years ago, we all accepted that the US had the best education system in the world. But that changed about ten years ago, when we started paying attention to international reports on student outcomes.
But at least we knew that we outspent everyone. Others may be (temporarily) ahead of us, but by putting our money where our priorities were, we could hold our heads high. And maybe these reports were measuring the wrong things. Isn’t it generally true that you get what you pay for?
Well it turns out, the OECD points out that we aren’t spending that much. In K12, the US now ranks 12th (out of 46 OECD countries) in terms of spending per student. While the US spends about $140,000 per student over their 13 years of K-12, Luxembourg spends about $250,000. The US is 7th on spending on education as a percentage of GDP.
And it’s not much prettier in Higher Education. As Inside Higher Ed points out:
"During the last 25 years, states have been paying an ever-shrinking portion of the costs of educating students at public colleges. That trend will be hard to reverse, as spending on Medicaid and other competing needs is likely to increase in most states."
And states pay almost three times as much for Higher Ed as the Federal government does. “Over time, the burden of the cost is being shifted from the state over to the students,” said Steve Mims, the filmmaker behind “Starving the Beast,” a documentary on the defunding of public universities.
If you’re reading this, you care about education. What are you going to do about it?