We had a lively night on education on KET yesterday with myself and Wayne Lewis, Commissioner of the Kentucky Department of Education; Brigitte Blom Ramsey, executive director of the Prichard Committee for Academic Excellence and Eric Kennedy, governmental relations director for the Kentucky School Boards Association.
Topics ranged from the 30th year anniversary of the famous Rose V. Council for Better Education Kentucky Supreme Court Case that brought us KERA to modern issues like teacher incentive pay and concerns about Kentucky’s proposed revision to its social studies standards.
This link should get you to the broadcast.
Over the next few days I will be following up with comments there wasn’t time to make on air.
I’ll start right out today regarding a comment from show host Renee Shaw that starts about 7 minutes and 15 seconds into the broadcast. She says Dr. Richard Day (from EKU) told KET that even though per pupil expenditures aren’t at the 1980s level, it’s approaching it.
I don’t know what Dr. Day is looking at, and going back to the pre-KERA era there aren’t many sources to look at, but here is what I pulled about current per pupil education expenditures from several US Census Bureau publications (current expenditures generally reflect what impacts the classroom and do not include capital expenditures, for example, which can vary a lot from year to year).
The first column of numbers shows uncorrected, that year dollars. The far-right column shows expenditures in constant, inflation-adjusted 2017 dollars.
As you can see, even after adjusting for inflation, the latest available data shows Kentucky’s current education expenditures are considerably higher than they were back in 1989, the year Rose was released.
Claiming we are approaching the pre-KERA level of funding again today seems alarmist and is just not correct.
The 1989 Census figure come from the US Census Bureau’s “Public Education Finances 1989,” Table 19. This is not available online and was obtained from the federal records repository at Northern Kentucky University’s main library.
The 2017 data comes from the US Census Bureau’s “Summary Tables, PUBLIC ELEMENTARY-SECONDARY EDUCATION FINANCES: FISCAL YEAR 2017,” Table 11.
The 1989 per pupil expenditure figure was adjusted to constant 2017 dollars using the Bureau of Labor Statistics’ CPI Inflation Calculator.