By Brett Davis / The Central Square
The average funding per student in Washington state is $18,175, according to new budget figures for the 2021-2022 school year from fiscal.wa.gov, the revenue and expenditure data website. the state. That compares to the national average of $14,418 per student to fund K-12 education, according to statistics from the Education Data Initiative last year.
Critics say the increased spending isn’t producing the desired return on investment. Last year’s student tests showed large drops in English and maths compared to the last pre-COVID-19 tests taken in 2019.
Statewide assessments administered last fall and released earlier this year by the Office of the Superintendent of Public Instruction (OSPI) showed that 70% of students did not meet the standard in math , while 52% of students did not reach the standard in English.
This is on top of an exodus of students from the public school system during the pandemic. Over the past two years, more than 41,000 families have removed their children from the Washington public school system, according to a recent report from the Washington State Caseload Forecast Council.
OSPI did not respond to emails from The Center Square seeking comment.
Liv Finne, director of the Center for Education at the Washington Policy Center, said last year’s test results show “we don’t get what we pay for.”
She pointed to House Bill 1633, which stalled in committee during the recently adjourned 2022 legislative session, as part of the potential solution to the problem.
“That’s why we need to pass bills like HB 1633, introduced by Rep. James Walsh, which would give parents $10,000 of their education funding per child, to cover the costs of home schooling. and private school tuition,” she explained in an email to The Place du Centre. “Thirty-two states, the District of Columbia, and Puerto Rico give parents access to school choice programs similar to HB 1633, programs that fund students’ education by giving their parents control over part of their education funding.”
In 2021, 621,700 students participated in one of 76 private school choice programs in those 32 states, the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico, according to the 2022 edition of “The ABCs of School Choice” guide. EdChoice. EdChoice is an Indianapolis, Indiana-based education reform organization founded in 1996 by economist spouses Milton and Rose Friedman.
For all the money spent on students in Evergreen State, the problem seems to be where the money is going.
“A good shortcut is that in public schools in Washington state, only 60 cents of every dollar reaches the classroom,” Finne pointed out, referring to more K-12 data from fiscal.wa.gov. “This is based on the Activity accounting category of ‘Teaching’.”
The situation is different in private schools, according to Finne.
“In comparison, private schools spend 80 to 90 cents of every classroom dollar on the teaching activity,” she said.
It’s not just about money, Finne acknowledged, but about providing an exit from the state’s basic education system.
“The best way to improve student outcomes is to give them an exit from public education,” she said. “School Choice. HB 1633 would have given families $10,000 per student to pay for home schooling and private school tuition.