Does more money mean more success?

Raising kids in the DC-area is not always an incredibly easy task. My wife and I are fortunate to be the parents of three great kids who work hard and go to a wonderful school.

Not all parents and children across DC are as blessed, but you sure wouldn’t know it from the level of per pupil spending in the District. The US Census Bureau recently released a report showing that the school system spent $18,000 per student, the highest in the country. However, AEI’s Michael McShane figures the spending to be actually more like $27,263. All of this, and DC still has some of the lowest test scores in the country.

I’m certainly not an education expert, but it doesn’t take one to know that something is wrong with this situation. It’s part of a larger trend – in America, we have a system designed for teachers, not students, and it’s doing the most damage to the most vulnerable of our children. A free enterprise society must be an opportunity society, and the one of the keys to opportunity is education. Just like money can’t buy happiness, it can’t buy a better education either.

If this is an issue that matters to you, I encourage you to check out AEI’s education policy team, and this paper that outlines the successes and failures of education advocates in the past. As AEI’s Rick Hess and Andrew Kelly stated recently, “Approaches to federal education policy ignore what we have learned from years of experience: The structures of American government make it difficult for the feds to make such progress at the school level. Improving education depends so much on the smart execution of ideas that it is nearly impossible to mandate our way to better schooling.” No matter how much you spend, it’s the ideas that matter.

Arthur Brooks