School funding: Never ‘enough’
In the run-up to another state budget showdown in Harrisburg, Gov. Tom Wolf and his educratic acolytes are demanding more money for public schools. State lawmakers likely will provide it, too, though probably less than what Mr. Wolf wants. But it still won’t be “enough,” critics will wail.
For all the factitious factoids about state education spending, the reality from the federal government and even the nation’s largest teachers union is that Pennsylvania far outspends most states — and by a comfortable margin.
Based on state Education Department figures, school spending set a new record in 2014-15 at $27.4 billion, amounting to $15,854 per pupil. That’s 10th in the nation, according to the U.S. Department of Education. In 2014 the National Education Association ranked Pennsylvania sixth nationwide in per pupil revenue, according to the Commonwealth Foundation.
Even amid the pension hardships of 2013-14 to 2014-15, when payments “surged” by $500 million, Pennsylvania school districts still managed to bank an additional $200 million in reserves, according to the think tank.
This is not to suggest that school pensions are sustainable. They’re not. The state’s stubborn reliance on defined-benefit plans should have gone out with Instamatic cameras and flash cubes.
More to the point, simply pumping additional money into “education,” because pols and ‘crats say so, is unbridled foolishness.