Out in the Twitter world I was recently challenged about Kentucky throwing more money at the education system since KERA began, so I thought an update on exactly how much education funding has increased in Kentucky would be worth adding to the blog.
One of the better, long-running sources of state education funding data is the US Census Bureau’s annual report series called Public Education Finances. The latest in the series is “Public Education Finances: 2015”
Thanks to the fact that Public Education Finances has been issued for decades, we can look at how funding for education has changed since the Kentucky Education Reform Act of 1990 was enacted.
This table shows that story.
As you can see in the far right column of the table, real spending on education nearly doubled in Kentucky during the past two and a half decades.
In terms of dollars out of your tax-paying wallet, you are now paying 363.8 percent of what you paid in 1990.
It’s a sizable increase in education ‘bucks’ no matter how you look at it.
Still, despite all this increase in funding, only 40 percent of Kentucky’s fourth graders tested proficient or more in the 2015 NAEP Grade 4 math and reading assessments. In Grade 8, NAEP said only 36 percent read proficiently and just 28 percent did math proficiently.
Given that KERA was a quarter of a century old in 2015, I think there is reason to question the education bang Kentuckians are getting for our many bucks.
And, Tweeters who don’t get these data-based facts are probably in a small minority.
Data Sources for Table: US Census Bureau, “Public Education Finances: 1989,” Table 11, (not on line), and US Census Bureau, “Public Education Finances: 2015,” Table 1, June 2017.
Calculation of constant 1989 dollar figure by author using the Bureau of Labor Statistics CPI Inflation Calculator.
For more on the NAEP, including performance for black students and data sources for Figure 1, see this blog.