A Tweet recently showed up with a Kentucky educator claiming that Bluegrass State “education is still funded at 47th of 50 states since 2008.”
I have no idea where this “stuff” comes from, but two fairly frequently cited sources from the US Census Bureau and even the National Education Association (NEA) show something different.
The US Census Bureau has published its “Public Education Finances” report annually for decades. The latest edition is Public Education Finances: 2015. This Census document shows in Table 11 that Kentucky ranks in 39th place overall in 2015 for public education revenue per pupil. That seems a little strange, however, as the rankings are also broken out by funding source, local, state or federal dollars. Kentucky ranks 38th for the education revenue coming from local sources. It ranks 28th for state-sourced education revenue and in 14th place for the amount of money per pupil from federal sources. That doesn’t seem to correspond to a 39th place ranking overall, but certainly the Bluegrass State doesn’t rank 47th, either.
The NEA also has a very long-running annual education statistics report called “Rankings & Estimates.”
Table C-1 in the latest, 2017-18 Ranking & Estimates ranks KY’s revenue Per Pupil in Fall 2017 at 33rd place overall. For the same year the NEA report’s Table C-3 ranks the contribution from local tax revenue in 35th place while the state contribution ranks 18th per Table C-4. NEA’s Table C-5 in the report ranks the state’s federal revenue per student at 13th place.
Thus, no matter how you slice this data, Kentucky doesn’t rank way down in 3rd from the bottom position for education revenue per pupil.
I wish Kentucky’s educators would be more careful about their education finance claims.
By the way, as far as how those education dollars actually get spent, well I wish I could tell you. However, through 2017 the state continues to generate school-level funding data that does not appear to be accurate. Supposedly, that will change soon as the federal Every Student Succeeds Act requires accurate reports on school-level funding, but it remains to be seen if that will actually happen.