Senior Director of State Fiscal Research
Most states provide less support per student for elementary and secondary schools — in some cases, much less — than before the Great Recession, as we detail in a new paper. Worse, some states are still cutting eight years after the recession took hold.
Our country’s future depends heavily on the quality of its schools, yet rather than raising K-12 funding to support proven reforms such as hiring and retaining excellent teachers, reducing class sizes, and expanding access to high-quality early education, many states have headed in the opposite direction. By cutting K-12 funding, these states are weakening schools’ capacity to develop the skills and creativity of the next generation of workers and entrepreneurs.
Our survey of the most up-to-date data on state and local funding for schools finds that, after adjusting for inflation:
Steep state-level K-12 spending cuts have serious consequences. As common sense suggests, money matters for educational outcomes. For instance, poor children who attend better-funded schools are more likely to complete high school and have higher earnings and less poverty in adulthood. Restoring school funding should be an urgent priority.