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: North Carolina

      North Carolina education reforms in a league of their own

      by Joe Luppino-Esposito | September 9, 2013

      The public education system has thoroughly changed for the better in North Carolina, thanks to major reforms in the most recent legislative session.

    • HEADLINES: Ohio

      State aid could fall for nearly 200 school districts under new budget, once money for charter schools is deducted

      The Cleveland Plain Dealer | by Patrick O'Donnell | September 6, 2013

      Statewide, both charter schools and traditional districts will see their basic state aid increase under the new budget, but the effects on individual districts vary and are complicated to sort out.

    • HEADLINES: Wisconsin

      School vouchers make WI a 'Star Student,' says budget watcher

      The Wisconsin Reporter | by M.D. Kittle | August 27, 2013

      While Walker sought larger enrollment in an expanded voucher program in Wisconsin’s largest school districts, the state Legislature’s compromise deal will bolster the system by 500 students statewide this year.

    • HEADLINES: North Carolina

      School funding debate meets reality in classrooms | by Mark Binker | August 26, 2013

      This year's $23 million funding increase represented a .3 percent boost in overall public schools funding in terms of raw dollars. At the same time, public schools expect enrollments to grow by 1.1 percent statewide this year.


      The 5 best and worst education stories for school year 2013-2014

      State Budget Solutions | by Joe Luppino-Esposito | August 21, 2013

      Summer is over for millions of teachers and students (and parents!) across the country. As classrooms and books are re-opened this fall, State Budget Solutions is here to teach a lesson on several education stories that will be talked about throughout the year. 

    • HEADLINES: Ohio

      Cities, schools caught in state budget battles

      The Newark Advocate | by Julie Carr Smyth | August 19, 2013

      School districts' share of state tax collections - a figure different than state education funding - dropped from $1.1 billion in 2010 to $510 million this year.


      Budget Cuts Hurt Common Core Implementation

      Stateline | by Adrienne Lu | August 13, 2013

      Thirty-four states reported that finding adequate resources to implement the Common Core standards has been a challenge.

    • HEADLINES: New York

      New York fails Common Core tests

      Politico | by Stephanie Simon | August 9, 2013

      The political fight over the Common Core academic standards rolling out in schools nationwide this fall is sure to intensify after New York reported Wednesday that students across the state failed miserably on new reading and math tests meant to reflect the more rigorous standards.

    • HEADLINES: Oregon

      More Money, Same Problems for Oregon Schools

      Cascade Policy Institute | by William Newell | August 7, 2013

      Oregon’s 2013 legislative session ended with the passage of the largest education budget the state of Oregon has ever seen.

    • HEADLINES: North Carolina

      In schools budget, a number isn't just a number

      The News & Observer | by Lynn Bonner | August 2, 2013

      Arguments over how much schools won or lost with a $7.9 billion budget has outlasted the legislative session and will likely flare up next year and bleed into political campaigns.

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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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