Not So Devastating Education Cuts
Special Report - November 1, 2012
Recent documentation of North Carolina’s public education performance, class and personnel size, and financial statistics reveal a different picture of public education than is often painted by some of the mainstream media, advocacy groups, and and public school officials. The Department of Public Instruction recently released the 2011-2012 School Report Cards and financial statistics for the same year. The School Report Cards allow for year-to-year comparisons in areas like performance, class size, and personnel. Terry Stoops, director of education studies at the John Locke Foundation, used these recent statistics to analyze whether claims that the Legislature “made ‘devastating’ cuts to public education” last year are true. He found that, “Per-pupil expenditures were up, and class sizes were mostly unchanged.”
Among Stoops’ findings are:
- “Class sizes increased in one grade only” with “the average first grade classroom” adding one additional student, resulting in 20 students per class.
- “Kindergarten and second-grade classrooms each had one fewer student, on average, compared to the year prior,” dropping to 19 students per class.
- Grades 3 through 8 and high school English, math, and science class sizes were unchanged.
- “An average of two teachers per school district,” for a total of 230 classroom teachers across the state, were dropped last year. Critics initially claimed that “thousands” of teachers were “fired” due to budget cuts.
- The decrease in teachers is most closely related to a drop in federal, not state, funding. In 2011-2012, the state actually increased education funding by $322 million, while federal funding dropped by $234.5 million. “Overall, total spending increased by $95 million.”
- Per-pupil funding from the state “increased by around $200 per student, while federal funding fell by nearly $173 per student.”
- The state provides “two-thirds of North Carolina’s public school funding.” In 2011-2012, “only 13 of the state’s 115 school districts” saw a decrease in per-pupil spending over the previous year. Almost half (55) of the state’s school districts increased per-pupil funding by at least $200 over the 2010-2011 school year.
- Per pupil spending in North Carolina has increased from just over $7000 in 2003-2004 to $8436.44 in 2011-2012. The highest per pupil spending in the last decade was more than $8,700 in 2008-2009.
- Total education expenditures in North Carolina have increased from $9.18 million in 2003-2004 to $11.95 in 2011-2012. The highest expenditures were in 2008-2009 when total state, federal, and local education spending topped $12.28 million.
Dr. Stoops concluded his analysis by writing: "The fact that Republicans increased education spending and maintained class sizes may be valuable from a political standpoint. The figures are useful for those who participate in the back-and-forth over discussions of education policy. But those inputs do not mean much in terms of the quality of education in North Carolina."
State Education Vision Statement - October 11, 2012
Education Savings Accounts Touted - October 9, 2012
NC SAT Scores Decrease - September 27, 2012
Parent Power In Education - September 25, 2012
NC Voters Support School Choice - September 20, 2012
25 New Charter Schools Approved - September 10, 2012
NC Supporters Support Charter Schools - July 19, 2012
Moms Support School Vouchers - May 22, 2012
School Choice Lowers Crime - April 5, 2012
Special Need Tax Credit Available - February 23, 2012
Record School Choice Expansion - January 30, 2012
NC Voters Support Charter Schools - July 19, 2012
Positive Charter School Closings - December 22, 2011
SBOE Approves Charter Fast Track - September 2, 2011
Charter School Checkmate - FNC - July 2010
Charter School Myths Debunked - January 7, 2010
Charter Schools Close Achievement Gap - October 5, 2009
NC SAT Scores Slightly Below Average - August 27, 2009
Charter Schools Have Financial Benefits - November 7, 2008
NC Public Schools Leaving Children Behind - August 14, 2008
Tax Credits for Special Needs Children - June 11, 2008
NC High School Dropout Rate Increasing - February 12, 2008
SAT Scores Decline In NC and Nation - August 30, 2007
NC Graduation Rates Overestimated - December 23, 2003
Federal Education Standards - December 3, 2002
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