K-12 Education

Primary and secondary education accounts for 20 percent of state general fund expenditures, making it the second largest component of state spending behind Medicaid.  That a large chunk of state budgets are devoted to K-12 education is not surprising given that together, states and  localities, pay more than 90 percent of the cost of public K-12 education, according to the State Budget Crisis Task Force.

Despite the millions of state dollars poured into K-12 education every year, America's school systems are failing to turn out successful students, as a Harvard study showed that U.S. math and reading competency scores fell below the global average. See our study "Throwing Money At Education Isn't Working" to learn what your state is pending, how students there are performing, and how that ranks with the rest of the country.

States need to fix their education problems, and they need to find budget-friendly ways to do so. Here are our Top 5 Questions to Ask Your School Board Officials About the School Budget.

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    • HEADLINES: Kentucky

      Beshear: State budget proposal won't rely on tax changes or gambling revenue

      The Lexington Herald-Leader | December 18, 2013

      Gov. Steve Beshear said that he'll present a two-year budget plan to lawmakers next month that will not assume any changes in the state's tax code or the legalization of casino gambling, though he'll push for both of those initiatives.

    • HEADLINES: Delaware

      Education, Medicaid costs expected to create hole in state budget

      Delaware Online | December 17, 2013

      Gov. Jack Markell, who will present a new budget to the General Assembly next month, will not have a significant boost in new tax revenue to cover mandatory cost increases in health care and education.

    • HEADLINES: Minnesota

      Today's Minnesota budget report has bearing on schools

      The Pioneer Press | December 5, 2013

      The comprehensive review of tax-and-spending patterns will help set expectations for Minnesota lawmakers when they return for their 2014 session in February.

    • HEADLINES: Florida

      Fla. Gov. Scott Preparing for Fight Over Budget Cuts | by Drew MacKenzie | November 26, 2013

      Florida Gov. Rick Scott is set to clash with state agencies over his plans to cut taxes and trim the budget by $100 million next year in an attempt to win over voters in an election year.

    • HEADLINES: Mississippi

      Miss. Gov's Budget Proposal: No New Taxes or Fees

      The Jackson Free Press | November 14, 2013

      Mississippi Gov. Phil Bryant is proposing a state budget that would put more money into education and public safety but would not increase taxes or fees.

    • HEADLINES: Florida

      Senators question if school budget will meet state's needs

      The Sarasota Herald-Tribune | by Lloyd Dunkelberger | November 7, 2013

      The Florida Department of Education's budget proposal, which takes into account 6,500 new students next fall, would boost per-student funding by $126.77.

    • POLICY BRIEF: Pennsylvania

      Zogby: Teachers’ union using ‘budget gimmicks’ in calling for rehiring of laid-off teachers

      The Pennsylvania Independent | by Maura Pennington | November 1, 2013

      State Budget Secretary Charles Zogby said, "It's unfair to the students, to the schools, and to the SRC to be hiring people based on one-time savings. These are the kind of budget gimmicks that got the district into trouble in the first place."

    • HEADLINES: California

      Time Running Out To Request Rebates of Political Dues

      Union Watch | by Ed Ring | November 1, 2013

      Whenever anyone suggests that public sector unions are forcing their members to make political contributions, the unions retort that the contributions are strictly voluntary. Technically speaking, this is true, but the tedious process of opting out of making political contributions is a powerful deterrent.

    • HEADLINES: Alabama

      Fiscal 2015 will be the state's most challenging budget year for K-12, state superintendent says | by Evan Belanger | October 25, 2013

      The economy may be recovering, but Alabama State Superintendent Tommy Bice is not optimistic about future funding for K-12 education.


      Study: Program in D.C. removed bad teachers

      USA Today | by Greg Toppo | October 21, 2013

      A controversial teacher-evaluation system put in place by former District of Columbia Schools Chancellor Michelle Rhee has done what it was supposed to do, according to new findings: 

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      Common Core Costs: Examining California's Five Largest School Districts

      State Budget Solutions | by Hannah Oh | September 16, 2014

      There seems to be an endless amount of controversy surrounding the Common Core. Vocal supporters and critics are not hard to find. This report suggests that there is another point of contention to consider: the costs of the technology upgrades required to implement Common Core.

    • POLICY BRIEF: Pennsylvania

      Zogby: Teachers’ union using ‘budget gimmicks’ in calling for rehiring of laid-off teachers

      The Pennsylvania Independent | by Maura Pennington | November 1, 2013

      State Budget Secretary Charles Zogby said, "It's unfair to the students, to the schools, and to the SRC to be hiring people based on one-time savings. These are the kind of budget gimmicks that got the district into trouble in the first place."


      Financial Incentives Are The "Core" Of New Education Standards

      State Budget Solutions | by Bob Williams, Joe Luppino-Esposito | June 18, 2013

      The implementation of the Common Core State Standards Initiative is forcing states to determine when a “good offer” becomes an offer that cannot be refused. This report will explain the issues, in terms of both finances and fedearlism, surrounding the adoption of the Commone Core.


      The School Staffing Surge: Decades of Employment Growth in America's Public Schools, Part II

      The Friedman Foundation for Educational Choice | by Benjamin Scafidi | March 1, 2013

      Public schools grew staffing at a rate four times faster than the increase in students over that time period. Of those personnel, teachers' numbers increased 252 percent, while administrators and other non-teaching staff experienced growth of 702 percent, more than seven times the increase in students.


      The Fiscal Effects of School Choice Programs on Public School Districts

      The Friedman Foundation for Educational Freedom | by Benjamin Scafidi | December 5, 2012

      Research shows that all forms of school choice tried in the United States have led to improvement in academic outcomes for students who remain in public schools or have led to no effect on academic outcomes for students who remain in public schools. Thus, the evidence on academic outcomes is one-sided. Greater school choice does not harm academic outcomes for students who remain in public schools.


      New Study Finds Public School Employment Far Outpacing K-12 Student Enrollment

      The Friedman Foundation for Educational Freedom | by Benjamin Scafidi | October 25, 2012

      America's public schools saw a 96 percent increase in students but increased administrators and other non-teaching staff a staggering 702 percent since 1950, according to a new study of school personnel by the Friedman Foundation for Educational Choice.


      Top 5 Questions to Ask Your School Board Officials About the School Budget

      by Kristen De Pena | October 18, 2012

      Prepare to engage in the budget process by familiarizing yourself with the data available and speaking with your school board officials.


      Report Card on American Education: Ranking State K-12 Performance, Progress, and Reform

      ALEC American Legislative Exchange Council | by Dr. Matthew Ladner and Dan Lips | March 9, 2012

      ALEC's 17th edition of the Report Card on American Education contains a comprehensive overview of educational achievement levels (performance and gains for low-income students) for the 50 states and the District of Columbia (see full report for complete methodology). The Report Card details what education policies states currently have in place and pro

    • RESEARCH: Tennessee

      2011 Tennessee Pork Report

      The Tennessee Center for Policy Rsearch and Citizens Against Government Waste | by Justin Owen, Christopher Butler, & Ryan Turbeville | December 2, 2011

      The sixth-annual Tennessee Pork Report is chock-full yet again, of waste, fraud, abuse, and mismanagement of taxpayer money by state and local government officials. Despite a changing political landscape in Tennessee, wasteful government spending has not disappeared.

    • POLICY BRIEF: Indiana

      Gov. Daniels leads Indiana to education reform

      State Budget Solutions | by Olivia Leonard | July 26, 2011

      Gov. Mitch Daniels Numerous signed legislation that implemented his wide-ranging reform agenda, including expanding the school options available to Indiana families through vouchers and charter school opportunities and increasing accountability for both schools and teachers.

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      Fiscal Issues and School Choice

      Foundation for Educational Choice | by Benjamin Scafidi | December 5, 2012

      Ben Scafidi's PowerPoint presentation, "Some Fiscal Issues and School Choice."

    • SOLUTIONS: North Carolina

      Technology in the Classroom Paying Off

      American Legislator | by John Stephenson | March 9, 2012

      With state and local education budgets under pressure and questions about student achievement front and center, administrators, parents, and teachers are now looking to advanced and increasingly less-expensive technology as a way to help address some of the current issues in education. One school district in particular, the Mooresville Graded School District, in Mooresville, NC stands out as an example of how technology can help improve student achievement in times of tightening budgets

    • SOLUTIONS: South Carolina

      Ditching No Child Left Behind - all of it

      The South Carolina Policy Council | December 2, 2011

      South Carolina should refuse federal No Child Left Behind Funds and the accompanying mandates and find a way to fund poor school districts adequately.

    • SOLUTIONS: South Carolina

      Online Learning: A Solution for South Carolina

      The South Carolina Policy Council | by Dennis J. Nielsen, Ed.D. | December 2, 2011

      Online learning can help at-risk students and is also cost-effective. Per pupil costs at the state’s virtual charter schools are an estimated 25 percent to 65 percent lower than at traditional public schools.

    • SOLUTIONS: North Carolina

      Education spending in North Carolina

      The John Locke Foundation | by Terry Stoops | December 2, 2011

      The state should discontinue the confusing practice of allocating funds to each school district using various funding formulas. Coupled with open enrollment for schools statewide, student-centered funding would ensure that schools of the parents' choosing receive funds necessary to educate each child and nothing more. The state should also implement a merit pay system for teachers that will pay a portion of their salary based on the value that they add to their students' academic performance.

    • SOLUTIONS: Mississippi

      Educating Children

      The Mississippi Center for Public Policy | December 2, 2011

      Parents should have more control over how tax funds are spent on their own children. Our state should allow more freedom for parents to choose - or even create - public schools that best meet their children's needs. T

    • SOLUTIONS: Arkansas

      Advancing Virtual Education in Arkansas

      The Arkansas Policy Foundation | December 2, 2011

      Explanation and review of virtual education in Arkansas.

    • SOLUTIONS: Arkansas

      Budget Alternative: 2011-2013 Biennium

      The Arkansas Policy Foundation | by Greg Kaza | December 2, 2011

      Funding for core Arkansas government functions-education, corrections and transportation-could occur at slightly increased rates while other operations are frozen at current levels, providing $31 million in savings to cut state income, capital gains and grocery tax rates.

    • SOLUTIONS: Louisiana

      Student Based Budgeting Viewed as Logical Extension of Charter School Movement

      The Pelican Post | by Kevin Mooney | December 2, 2011

      The idea behind student based budgeting (SBB) is for school dollars to be dispersed on a per-pupil basis and to follow individual students into schools where the principals determine how the money is best spent.

    • SOLUTIONS: Texas

      The Texas Taxpayer Savings Grant Program

      The Texas Public Policy Foundation | by Talmadge Heflin | December 2, 2011

      The Texas Taxpayer Savings Grant Program is designed to reduce the amount of general revenue spent on public education by reducing enrollment in and the associated costs of the state’s public K-12 schools. The program works by reimbursing parents and legal guardians for “the amount of actual tuition costs or 60 percent of the state average per- pupil spending maintenance and operations expenditures, whichever is less,” should they choose to enroll their child in a private school, rather than a Texas public school.

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