These states spend the most on education

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Each election cycle, from the federal to local government level, from Congress to local city council meetings, education policy is a consistent issue addressed and debated by politicians. This shouldn’t be surprising. Education is a key part of society across the world. While education policies, initiatives, and ideals are important, one of the most important factors in a successful education system is the level of government spending and support. This article will explore education spending in the United States with a look at spending at the national level and a focus on education funding by state.

The US education system, as well as practically every other national education system around the world, needs to be financed to function and fulfill its role in preparing students for the future. In general terms, education funding is money spent to support the education system. According to the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES), education spending covers salaries and benefits of school employees (e.g., teaching, administration, and support staff), educational facilities and their maintenance, student tuition, and a broad variety of services that support school operations and require financing.

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The controversy

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Governments at all levels are limited in what they can spend; thus, education spending can be controversial and challenging to agree on. For example, teacher pay and benefits are important parts of education spending. The 2012 Chicago teachers’ strike and the 2018 West Virginia teachers’ strike saw teachers’ unions organize strikes to push for higher pay and better benefits from state and local governments. Another example is the State of Colorado’s Taxpayers’ Bill of Rights (TABOR) law which limited government spending from year to year. One of the effects of this was limiting the amount of money for education spending and limiting the public funds available to educational institutions.

Education spending priorities can vary across the country as different states and school districts have unique needs. Large urban areas may require more money for transportation and have higher living costs than other parts of the country. Political ideals can play an important role as well. Some politicians advocate larger public spending on education, while others prefer to limit public spending and let the private market have an expanded role in the education system. These are not the only political stances across the US. A variety of other education priorities have more influence on education spending.

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The US Department of Education

At the federal level, education issues are primarily the domain of the US Department of Education. The department was founded in 1980 and strives to ensure the US education system id competitive with other countries and provides equal access to education for all students. The department is located in Washington D.C. but works with state and local education departments around the United States. Additionally, the education department is headed by the Secretary of Education, a cabinet-level position in the executive branch, meaning the President of the United States generally appoints the person who will lead the department.

The US Department of Education is responsible for federal financial aid policies and management, gathering and researching data about US education, addressing and advocating for issues in education, guaranteeing equal access to education, and combating discrimination. The Department of Education also provides funding to schools and districts across the country. They are not the only source of funding but can be a major source of funds, depending on the area, and play a key role in providing funds for educational initiatives.

While the Department of Education is a federal-level department, they have limited control over state and other local school systems. For example, the United States does not have a national curriculum. It is the prerogative of each state, or local administration in some cases, to create or manage curriculum. For example, California has the Instructional Quality Commission to provide curriculum frameworks, and Florida has the Benchmarks for Excellent Student Thinking (BEST) Standards; neither was provided by the US Department of Education. Additionally, states control their own teacher certification process, setting different standards with some requiring the PRAXIS exam and others having their own exams (for example, California has the CBEST exam).

Additionally, the US Department of Education cannot enact laws. The No Child Left Behind (NCLB) Act of 2002 and the subsequent Every Student Succeeds Act of 2015, for example, were acts of Congress and were not created or made law by the Department of Education. The department can provide information about new laws or adhere to policies in laws but cannot act as a legislative body.

While the Department of Education has limited powers, it still has authority in some areas of education policy. For example, the Secretary of Education can recognize higher education accreditation agencies. These agencies are important to ensure a higher education institution meets educational standards. If an accreditation agency is not recognized by the Secretary of Education, any school accredited by the non-recognized agency would have to find a new source of accreditation.

Services Offered by the US Department of Education

As the previous section mentioned, some of the main roles of the US Department of Education include federal financial aid policies and management, managing and providing information on US education, and ensuring educational equality. Below is a closer look at some of these functions.

  • Loans: In simple terms, one role of the US Department of Education is to create policies on student loans and distribute these loans to qualifying borrowers. The recent student loan deferments during the Trump and Biden administrations are good examples. The Executive Orders by both presidents were orders for the Department of Education to act on deferring student loans. President Biden’s student loan forgiveness Executive Order was attempted similarly. President Biden ordered the department, not Congress or any other branch of government, to act. Additionally, loan forgiveness programs are overseen by the Department of Education. Those who apply for Public Service Loan Forgiveness (PSLF) have this forgiveness program managed through the Department of Education.
  • Equality: The department also ensures schools and school districts around the country adhere to civil rights and equal opportunity laws to provide unfettered access to all American students, no matter their background, including LGBTQ+ students and students with disabilities. This action falls under Title VI of the Civil Rights Act. If the Department of Education provides any sort of financing to a school or district, the school or district is responsible for ensuring access to all students, no matter their racial background or national origin. If a school doesn’t comply, the Office of Civil Rights will investigate and take action accordingly.
  • Data and Research: Another major function of the US Department of Education is data and research. The department is responsible for collecting data on US schools, districts, students, and other educational matters and providing the results of the research as well as access to analysis. One outlet is the previously mentioned NCES. The NCES gathers data on schools, districts, students, families, and several other data sets on education and makes them publicly available. For example, NCES has data tools, including the American Community Survey Education Tabulation (ACS-Ed), which provides information, such as demographics or economic backgrounds for US students and their families. Another tool, the Elementary/Secondary Information System (ELSi), provides a range of statistics about elementary and secondary school data. The Department of Education, along with acknowledging accreditation agencies, publishes a regularly updated list of accredited schools to ensure the public can access this information to make more informed choices when planning for college.

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U.S. Education Budget

 

The federal US education budget for FY 2022 is $637.70 billion. This makes up about 5.6% of the entire federal budget. By comparison, the budgetary obligations for the US education system are $614.72 billion. Projected primary and secondary education spending for the entire country for FY 2022 is $750.3 billion ($717.8 billion in FY 2020 dollars), which comes out to $14,750 per pupil ($14,330 in FY 2020 dollars). Globally, the United States ranks just above the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) and G20 average education spending of 4.106% of GDP spent on primary to tertiary education. But, according to OECD data, the United States ranks number 19 in education spending as a percentage of GDP (for reference, Norway is the highest with 6.385 percent of GDP spent on primary to tertiary education).

Federally, the US education budget goes to several places. The photo shows a chart with information from USAspending.gov that shows how much and where the education budget is set to be placed.

Each of these areas has its own responsibilities. The largest spending item, Federal Student Aid, is most well-known for providing aid opportunities. For example, $68.3 billion is allocated to go to educational grants. Some other areas of spending are obvious by their names. The Office of Elementary and Secondary Education uses its budget to assist with costs and resources for elementary and secondary schools around the country. Others may be a bit broader, such as the Disaster Education Recovery. Funds from this area can be used to help schools recover from the Covid-19 pandemic or even natural disasters that affect schools or districts.

It is also important to note that the above chart includes budgetary resources only for the US Department of Education. Additionally, each area of spending has its financial obligations, which are lower than the allotted budget across the board. This gap in obligations and budget can shed more light on education spending and priorities. Disaster Education Recovery, for example, has around $48.5 million in obligations but a budget of around $1.4 billion. This can indicate the anticipated need for this spending area will be higher than expected in FY 2022. Given the recent pandemic and its effects on schools, these numbers should not be surprising.

Per Pupil Spending by State

Here’s the breakdown for how much each state and U.S. territory spends on education:

 

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55. American Samoa

Expenditures per pupil on elementary and secondary education (unadjusted for inflation): $5,427

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54. Puerto Rico

Expenditures per pupil on elementary and secondary education (unadjusted for inflation): $7,877

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53. Utah

Expenditures per pupil on elementary and secondary education (unadjusted for inflation): $7,950

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52. Idaho

Expenditures per pupil on elementary and secondary education (unadjusted for inflation): $8,043

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51. Arizona

Expenditures per pupil on elementary and secondary education (unadjusted for inflation): $8,773

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50. Nevada

Expenditures per pupil on elementary and secondary education (unadjusted for inflation):  $9,126

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49. Oklahoma

Expenditures per pupil on elementary and secondary education (unadjusted for inflation): $9,203

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48. Mississippi

Expenditures per pupil on elementary and secondary education (unadjusted for inflation):  $9,253

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47. North Carolina

Expenditures per pupil on elementary and secondary education (unadjusted for inflation):  $9,799

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46. Texas

Expenditures per pupil on elementary and secondary education (unadjusted for inflation):  $9,868

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45. Guam

Expenditures per pupil on elementary and secondary education (unadjusted for inflation): $9,885

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44. Tennessee

Expenditures per pupil on elementary and secondary education (unadjusted for inflation): $9,941

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43. Florida

Expenditures per pupil on elementary and secondary education (unadjusted for inflation):  $9,986

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42. Alabama

Expenditures per pupil on elementary and secondary education (unadjusted for inflation): $10,107

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41. Indiana

Expenditures per pupil on elementary and secondary education (unadjusted for inflation): $10,252

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40. South Dakota

Expenditures per pupil on elementary and secondary education (unadjusted for inflation): $10,325

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39. Arkansas

Expenditures per pupil on elementary and secondary education (unadjusted for inflation): $10,412

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38. New Mexico

Expenditures per pupil on elementary and secondary education (unadjusted for inflation): $10,466

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37. South Carolina

Expenditures per pupil on elementary and secondary education (unadjusted for inflation): $10,994

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36. Colorado

Expenditures per pupil on elementary and secondary education (unadjusted for inflation): $11,072

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35. Georgia

Expenditures per pupil on elementary and secondary education (unadjusted for inflation):  $11,203

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34. Kentucky

Expenditures per pupil on elementary and secondary education (unadjusted for inflation): $11,280

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33. Kansas

Expenditures per pupil on elementary and secondary education (unadjusted for inflation):  $11,328

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32. Missouri

Expenditures per pupil on elementary and secondary education (unadjusted for inflation): $11,349

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31. Louisiana

Expenditures per pupil on elementary and secondary education (unadjusted for inflation): $11,920

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30. Iowa

Expenditures per pupil on elementary and secondary education (unadjusted for inflation): $11,933

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29. Montana

Expenditures per pupil on elementary and secondary education (unadjusted for inflation): $11,984

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28. Michigan

Expenditures per pupil on elementary and secondary education (unadjusted for inflation): $12,052

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27. West Virginia

Expenditures per pupil on elementary and secondary education (unadjusted for inflation): $12,269

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26. Oregon

Expenditures per pupil on elementary and secondary education (unadjusted for inflation): $12,457

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25. Virginia

Expenditures per pupil on elementary and secondary education (unadjusted for inflation):  $12,642

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24. Wisconsin

Expenditures per pupil on elementary and secondary education (unadjusted for inflation): $12,690

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23. Nebraska

Expenditures per pupil on elementary and secondary education (unadjusted for inflation): $12,746

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22. Minnesota

Expenditures per pupil on elementary and secondary education (unadjusted for inflation): $13,297

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21. Ohio

Expenditures per pupil on elementary and secondary education (unadjusted for inflation): $13,433

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20. California

Expenditures per pupil on elementary and secondary education (unadjusted for inflation): $13,641

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19. North Dakota

Expenditures per pupil on elementary and secondary education (unadjusted for inflation): $14,033

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18. Washington

Expenditures per pupil on elementary and secondary education (unadjusted for inflation): $14,342

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17. Maryland

Expenditures per pupil on elementary and secondary education (unadjusted for inflation): $15,576

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16. Maine

Expenditures per pupil on elementary and secondary education (unadjusted for inflation): $15,686

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15. Delaware

Expenditures per pupil on elementary and secondary education (unadjusted for inflation): $15,929

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14. Hawaii

Expenditures per pupil on elementary and secondary education (unadjusted for inflation): $16,132

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13. Wyoming

Expenditures per pupil on elementary and secondary education (unadjusted for inflation): $16,228

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12. Illinois

Expenditures per pupil on elementary and secondary education (unadjusted for inflation): $16,281

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11. US Virgin Islands

Expenditures per pupil on elementary and secondary education (unadjusted for inflation): $16,651

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10. Pennsylvania

Expenditures per pupil on elementary and secondary education (unadjusted for inflation): $16,892

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9. New Hampshire

Expenditures per pupil on elementary and secondary education (unadjusted for inflation): $17,457

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8. Rhode Island

Expenditures per pupil on elementary and secondary education (unadjusted for inflation): $17,539

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7. Alaska

Expenditures per pupil on elementary and secondary education (unadjusted for inflation): $18,393

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6. Massachusetts

Expenditures per pupil on elementary and secondary education (unadjusted for inflation): $19,196

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5. Connecticut

Expenditures per pupil on elementary and secondary education (unadjusted for inflation): $21,140

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4. Vermont

Expenditures per pupil on elementary and secondary education (unadjusted for inflation): $21,217

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3. New Jersey

Expenditures per pupil on elementary and secondary education (unadjusted for inflation): $21,331

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2. District of Columbia

Expenditures per pupil on elementary and secondary education (unadjusted for inflation): $22,831

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1. New York

Expenditures per pupil on elementary and secondary education (unadjusted for inflation):  $24,882

To see more data go to Study.com

This article originally appeared on Study.com and was syndicated by MediaFeed.org.

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