The economics of school funding: We’re in trouble

George W. Bush (The Dumber) made this classic statement when he was running for president for his first term:

“Rarely is the question asked: Is our children learning?” —Florence, S.C., Jan. 11, 2000

Grammarians laughed. But in the course of a year, he won a heavily contested presidential election (because people couldn’t count) and moved into the White House for the next eight years.

But the following is what has happened since the last year of his presidency:


I can answer his question.


Look at the numbers. Only fourteen states have increased funding for K-12 education. I’m guessing more than half of those increases were below the rate of inflation for that time period, so if I’m being generous, that means seven states have increased educational funding in inflation adjusted dollars. So, 43 states have cut funding (if there’s a zero percent increase, that means funding has been cut because of inflation).

We are going out of our way to raise a confederacy (and a union) of dunces.

Instead of making sure our children ARE learning, we get this Kafkaesque reality show where state officials and millionaire TV news people tell us that the reason state budgets are out of control is because public school teachers make so much money.

So what are teachers making? Let’s go to the National Center for Education Statistics.


The average salary for full-time public school teachers in 2010–11 was $56,069 in current dollars (i.e. dollars that are not adjusted for inflation). In constant (inflation-adjusted) dollars, the average salary was about 3 percent higher in 2010–11 than in 1990–91.

So obviously, since teachers make “SO MUCH MONEY” they must be at the high end of wage earners.

teacher salary

Uh. No.

We don’t pay to educate our children. We don’t pay our teachers to educate our children. We are not going to have smart adults as a result. We are in serious trouble.