Where School Dollars Go to Waste
"Why throw money at problems? That is what money is for."—Kurt Vonnegut
Local and State Spending by Sector
Of course, education spending isn’t inherently bad—what matters is the result. Some school districts get lots in return for the amount of money they spend. And some governments have systems that track the return on investment. Texas, for example, launched a tool five years ago that assesses how school districts and individual campuses spend their money and compares the data with student achievement.
Now, the online financial resource WalletHub has crunched the numbers on school spending at 90 of the most-populated cities across the country, revealing which ones are getting the most—and least—bang for their buck. To arrive at the findings, WalletHub divided each city’s aggregate test scores in fourth- and eighth-grade reading and math by its total per-capita education spending. The researchers then adjusted those figures for various socioeconomic factors, such as the poverty rate and percentage of households that don't speak English as their first language.
Cities With the Most Efficient K-12 Spending
Regionally, trends suggest that the North East is home to some of the most wasteful school districts. Of the bottom 10 cities on the list, seven are located in that area:
Cities With the Least-Efficient K-12 Spending
For some cities the data is all but indicting: At the bottom of the list is Rochester, New York, a city that is No. 2 for K-12 spending but has the lowest test scores. Jill Gonzalez, a spokeswoman for WalletHub, had this to say about the regional analysis: "As far as the Northeast goes these cities are spending upwards of $2,500 per capita and their test scores really aren’t showing that. They may have more money to spend on students but they are not using it efficiently."
Mapping Efficient and Inefficient K-12 Spending