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More Money Does Not Fix Education!

Original post made by Get Real on Mar 15, 2009

Pleasanton Unified Spend $5492 per student. Washington D.C. spends $24600 per student (that is not a typo). Washington D.C. has a 50% high school drop-out rate. With this, and many other examples, why do people think that more money will fix education?

Comments (15)

Posted by Jeb Bing, editor of the Pleasanton Weekly
on Mar 15, 2009 at 9:44 pm

Jeb Bing is a registered user.

We're intentionally giving topics pertaining to the June 2 parcel tax measure and teacher layoffs a rest because the postings have become repetitive and, in some instances, accusatory and hurtful to teachers and other employees of the school district who are unable to respond to postings, most of which are made under the cloak of anonymity. The postings online will remain, but future postings to these threads or new ones dealing with teacher layoffs and the parcel tax can be made only by registered users of the Pleasanton Weekly forum.

Posted by AVHS Dad, a resident of Stoneridge Park
on Mar 17, 2009 at 11:26 am

AVHS Dad is a registered user.

Does the discrepancy have anything to do that Washington DC is a District (District of Columbia) rather than a County/State? I'd also appreciate a link to your data. I can't find anything remotely close to your figures.

Posted by Mflanagin, a resident of Donlon Elementary School
on Mar 17, 2009 at 4:15 pm

Mflanagin is a registered user.

I is not how much money you have it is how you use it and Pleasanton has used it for the benefit of children in school.

I highly doubt that Washington DC has the number of wonderful programs as we do in Pleasanton, making us one of the best school systems in the nation. I have heard it is one of the worst education systems in the country... the money is not going to the right places obviously. With all the Government surrounding the city... no wonder.

Our money is going to the right place here in Pleasanton... educating our children. The California State government, government once again, has cheated us out of 8.7 million this year and 2 million last year. Last year the district made the 2 million dollars cuts on a district level, so not to disturb the excellent education of the schools.

This year 8.7 million can not all come from the district level. Although they are definitely making cuts there, we now see it being taken directly from the classrooms and our children, our future.

Without the parcel tax, a lot of those programs and EXTRA trained teachers will be gone. Teachers that know how to teach our children better. California has been 47th in funding for years and yet Pleasanton has put its money in the right places and therefore has made the district of Pleasanton one of the top school districts in the country. When the parcel tax pass all the money will stay in the districts hands and not in the irresponsible hands of the state government. I have been to many school board meetings recently and those members are full of integrity.

Michelle Flanagin

Posted by AVHS Dad, a resident of Stoneridge Park
on Mar 18, 2009 at 8:37 am

AVHS Dad is a registered user.

I'm a homeowner who's all for the parcel tax.
I agree with Mflanagin regarding Pleasanton schools.
However, I'd still apprecaite a link to the figures cited above.
At this point I can't accept them.

Posted by Stacey, a resident of Amberwood/Wood Meadows
on Mar 18, 2009 at 8:57 am

Stacey is a registered user.

Not specifically on DC... Web Link

"further resources devoted to the problem without structural reform will simply make the nation's schools more expensive, not better. Their macro argument is that over the last 30 years real expenditures per pupil have tripled but most measures of test performance have dropped sharply. Their micro argument is that most careful research studies have simply not found any relationship between resource inputs and output measures such as achievement test scores. "

Here's something on DC: Web Link

"Spending per pupil in Washington, DC, is a whopping 50% higher than the national average, yet the city's public schools are atrocious. If it were a state, its pupils' test scores would rank dead last."

Posted by Stacey, a resident of Amberwood/Wood Meadows
on Mar 18, 2009 at 9:04 am

Stacey is a registered user.

Here's some other interesting looking articles regarding expenditure and education quality, but unfortunately they require a login to read:

Web Link
"Giving more money to schools is the wrong way to improve student learning, a report by a panel of economists and educators released here last week argues. "

Web Link
"But the link between spending per pupil and outcomes has always been weak....States, districts, and schools should pursue at least the following five strategies..."

Posted by Sandy, a resident of Mohr Park
on Mar 18, 2009 at 9:50 am

Sandy is a registered user.

I've said it before, and I'll say it again:

increasing class sizes is NOT going to improve educational quality. Paying to maintain small classes is a wise investment.

The research on class size reduction shows that the benefits are greatest below 20 students, for early elementary grades, and for disadvantaged children.

Raising our class sizes in K-3 from 20 to 25 or 30+ is going to affect
-teachers' ability to devote attention to individual students
-time on task for all students (since disciplinary problems will become more frequent and distracting)
-student performance.

I spent some time looking at the data from Alisal, where my daughter attends. Class size reductions were implemented in 1998. Compare the performance of children before and after CSR:

Second grade reading, 1998: 65 % of children 50th percentile or above
1999: 76 % (11 % gain)
2000: 88 % (additional 12% gain)

Second grade math, 1998: 79% of children at 50th percentile or above
1999: 85 % (6% gain)
2000: 87% (additional 2% gain)

Second grade reading, 1998: 69% of children at 50th percentile or above
1999: 76% (7% gain)
2000: 89% (additional 13% gain)

Second grade spelling, 1998: 51% of children at 50th percentile or above
1999: 67% (16% gain)
2000: 87% (additional 20% gain)

Second grade language, 1998: 69% of children at 50th percentile or above
1999: 76% (7% gain)
2000: 89% (additional 13% gain)

All STAR test data reports can be accessed at this link:

Web Link

A summary of research on class sizes and performance:

Web Link

(PS -- I suspect that some of the extra money spent on schools in DC goes to security. Teachers can't teach, and students can't learn, when they don't feel safe. We're fortunate that our schools do not require metal detectors at each entrance.)

Posted by Stacey, a resident of Amberwood/Wood Meadows
on Mar 18, 2009 at 11:04 am

Stacey is a registered user.


Did Alisal also have reading specialists during that time? What are the demographic differences between the 2nd grade from 1998, 1999 and 2000? Moreover, when my family moved to Pleasanton, Alisal was rated higher than, for example, Fairlands despite larger class sizes. When did the decrease happen?

Posted by Sandy, a resident of Mohr Park
on Mar 18, 2009 at 12:17 pm

Sandy is a registered user.

Hi Stacey,

Sorry, I can't answer your question about reading specialists -- I was not here then. It would be extremely unusual for demographic differences to make that big of a difference over the course of two or three years. If you'd like to check the patterns at other elementary schools, I provided a link to the source of the data I used. It took me about 45 minutes to input Alisal's data across years into a spreadsheet.

Posted by Mflanagin, a resident of Donlon Elementary School
on Mar 19, 2009 at 10:35 am

Mflanagin is a registered user.

The decrease happened about 10 years ago. I am assuming, if someone could confirm, that is probably when standards increased, and when kindergarten required standards for children "turned" into 1st grade requirements and 1st to 2nd etc. I may be incorrect, so if any teachers know...??

Posted by Parent of Two, a resident of Val Vista
on Mar 19, 2009 at 3:17 pm

Parent of Two is a registered user.

Post hoc ergo propter hoc.

I happen to have a child that started 2nd grade in 2000 (class of 2011), and I know that particular group of kids was exceptionally smart, even by high Pleasanton standards. Don't assume that it has anything to do with the size of the classrooms.

If you pull up the STAR data for 2002, you'll see that the class immediately following (class of 2012) has LOWER test averages. Did they have different class sizes...? NO.

Posted by Sandy, a resident of Mohr Park
on Mar 19, 2009 at 9:19 pm

Sandy is a registered user.

Actually, it's not possible to do a direct comparison of 2001 vs. 2002 second grade scores, because... the state changed the tests! Reporting from 2002 onward is not in percentiles. It's by category (advanced, proficient, basic, below basic, and far below). So there's no straightforward way to do a comparison.

I'm surprised to hear that there's anyone who happens to know the hundred-odd children who attended second grade at Alisal eight years ago. Perhaps you'd like to review the test scores for the other elementary schools in the district, in order to support your contention?

Posted by Parent of Two, a resident of Val Vista
on Mar 20, 2009 at 10:09 am

Parent of Two is a registered user.

Uh, if you check the 4th grade scores in 2004, you get the same effect. IT'S THE SAME KIDS!

And the stats are all there by school. I checked Donlon, which is where my kids went, and it's pretty clear that some classes consistently score higher than classes a year in either direction.

It isn't necessarily the class size that determined the scores. Occam's Razor. Some years are just smarter (or at least, take tests better).

Posted by Stacey, a resident of Amberwood/Wood Meadows
on Mar 27, 2009 at 11:51 am

Stacey is a registered user.

As I wrote on another thread...

Posted by Stacey, a resident of the Amberwood/Wood Meadows neighborhood, 13 minutes ago
Stacey is a member (registered user) of Pleasanton Weekly


I don't know where the writer of that thread got their data from, but a quick Google search for "washington dc per pupil spending" came up with this article from the Washington Times as a first hit: Web Link

"The most common per-pupil figure used for D.C. Public Schools is an estimated $13,000....But the actual dollar amount is $24,600 - which is "roughly $10,000 more than the average for area private schools," as Andrew Coulson of the Cato Institute pointed out in his April 4 blog, "The Real Cost of Public Schools." ...Total funding for D.C. Public Schools this fiscal year (including federal dollars) was $1.216 billion. He divided that by the official enrollment figure of 49,422 and the sum became $24,606. "

I guess using the same basic math above... lists PUSD as having 14,613 students.
The PUSD budget is $124MM
That gives roughly $8485 per pupil, which is a higher number than the "Get Real" poster wrote (he must have confused ADA with per pupil spending).

I suppose that number is on-track since the per pupil spending was $7,935 in 2005/2006 according to greatschools/NCES.

Posted by AVHS Dad, a resident of Stoneridge Park
on Mar 27, 2009 at 4:53 pm

AVHS Dad is a registered user.

Thanks again Stacey!

The source looks solid to me. That's a heck of a lot of money for what DC gets, and makes me think we get a heck of a lot for our money here in Pleasanton.

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