Jay Greene of the Manhattan Institute has an excellent article in The American Enterprise debunking common myths about education policy. The most pernicious myth is that public schools suffer from a lack of funding. As Jay explains:
“Few people are aware that our education spending per pupil has been growing steadily for 50 years. At the end of World War II, public schools in the United States spent a total of $1,214 per student in inflation-adjusted 2002 dollars. By the middle of the 1950s that figure had roughly doubled to $2,345. By 1972 it had almost doubled again, reaching $4,479. And since then, it has doubled a third time, climbing to $8,745 in 2002.
…So if more money produces better results in schools, we would expect to see significant improvements in test scores during this period. That didn’t happen. For twelfth-grade students, who represent the end product of the education system, NAEP scores in math, science, and reading have all remained flat over the past 30 years. And the high school graduation rate hasn’t budged. Increased spending did not yield more learning.
…There’s plenty of room for debate on how best to reform our school system, but the sooner Americans realize that lack of resources is not the real problem in our schools the sooner we can have a meaningful debate on how to make education more productive.”