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EDITORIAL: NY proves more money will never fix education

If you believe more money will cure all that ails public education, consider New York.

Late last month, the Census Bureau released its Annual Survey of School System Finances. This update covered the 2021-22 school year. This data provides a way to compare education funding between states.

Nevada ranked 40th in per-pupil revenue at $14,400. Spending was lower at $11,700 a student. That ranked 43rd. Remember this the next time someone claims Nevada ranks 49th in education spending.

New York is at the top of the spending charts. Its per-pupil revenues were at $35,900 while spending came in at nearly $30,000 a student.

You can even compare the largest districts. The Clark County School District is the fifth-largest in the country. That year it spent $11,600 per student. The New York City Public Schools is the largest district in the country. It spent a staggering $35,900 per student. In a classroom of 25 students, that would be nearly $900,000.

Nevada’s education establishment has long claimed the state doesn’t spend enough on education. They argue the key to fixing Nevada’s low achievement levels is simply spending more. If that were true, students in New York should be running laps around Nevada’s youngsters. But they’re not.

In 2022, the Nation’s Report Card shows 27 percent of Nevada fourth graders were proficient or better in reading. In New York, it was 29 percent. Both scores were below the national average.

In math, Nevada’s fourth graders outperformed their counterparts in New York, with 29 percent proficiency rate here compared with 28 percent in the Empire State. Again, both scores were below the national average.

The same pattern holds if you look at the large school districts. Clark County trailed New York City slightly on fourth grade reading while outperforming Big Apple schools in math. Both had scores below the national average.

According to the Census Bureau, the five states with the lowest per-pupil revenue were Idaho, Utah, Mississippi, Oklahoma and Florida. All except Oklahoma scored above New York in fourth grade reading. Each of those five states had better scores in fourth grade math. In both subjects, low-spending Florida and Utah had scores significantly above the national average.

If the primary goal of Nevada’s education establishment were improving outcomes, facts such as these would cause a systemic shift in priorities. But it’s not. More money benefits the adults in the system, inflating budgets, union power and campaign contributions to Democrat politicians. Poor outcomes are just “proof” that more money is needed.

New York reveals the fallacy of this line of thought. To improve Nevada education, imitate Florida, which has better results than Nevada while spending less.

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