A Republican friend dropped by the house last week. We debated (quite enjoyably, mind you) a number of Governor Daugaard’s policies, including the “new norm” of K-12 education funding that permanently set our schools back five years in the resources they can bring to bear to teach our kids.
“If you think your school needs more money,” argued my friend, “why not raise your local spending?”
My response is the same as it was four years ago and one year ago: our local districts are already bearing more than their share of education costs compared to the investments local districts in other states are expected to bear.
Take a look at the June 2012 Census Bureau report on public education finance data. In 2010 (it takes a while to compile all this data), across the U.S., we dedicated $49.82 out of every $1000 of personal income to public K-12 education. In other words, for every dollar they made in 2010, Americans dropped a nickel in their public schools.
In South Dakota, we invested a little less of our wealth in education, $41.72 per $1000 of personal income. That ranks us 47th in the nation.
Now break those numbers down by federal, state, and local sources. Nationally, 12.5% of that share of income dedicated to K-12 public education comes from federal sources. 43.5% comes from state sources, while 44.0% comes from local sources.
In South Dakota, 19.4% comes from federal sources. 30.9% comes from Pierre. 49.7% comes from your local district.
How does South Dakota’s imbalance of funding sources compare to other states?
- We have the 5th highest reliance on federal sources for K-12 revenue relative to personal income. (#1 through #4: North Dakota, Mississippi, New Mexico, Idaho.)
- Pierre is dead last, 50st, in its share of the K-12 tab. (#49 through #46: Florida, Illinois, Nebraska, and Rhode Island).
- Our local districts rank 14th in their share of K-12 resources.
My contention here is not that throwing more money at education makes kids smarter. Whatever amount of money we should spend on education, the ugly fact is that our state government isn’t shouldering its fair burden to smooth out local wealth disparities and ensure equal educational opportunities for all students.