New York Times shows school success isn't simply a matter of money
More money for public schools may not guarantee children a better education, The New York Times concluded after examining spending increases throughout the New York City school system over the past four years.
Noting that the city's schools have seen dramatic increases in spending in recent years, the Times said its analysis of the new spending found that nearly half had gone for school aides, administration and student support services. Those areas, it said, "seem to have less to do with improved academic performance than, say, teacher training."
"The analysis contradicts two common assumptions about educational disparities," the newspaper said. "It found that the districts with the highest-performing students received the least amount of money per pupil. They also have the most crowded classrooms."
The Times article, headlined "Success of City School Pupils Isn't Simply a Money Matter," appeared June 14 on the paper's front page.
"It is the proper use of resources that plays the key role in outcomes," one district superintendent was quoted as saying. In one low-performing school district, 10 cents of every dollar goes to pay for school aides, paraprofessionals and other non-teaching positions. Another district, which ranks among the city's best-performing, devotes only half that amount to aides and similar jobs, while spending more on teacher training.
"Across the city, the school districts that rank highest academically have, in most cases, the smallest per-student budgets," the newspaper reported. "That apparent paradox results in part from federal and state programs that funnel money to districts that are in very poor neighborhoods and that have students in need of extra academic help. The result, however, is that the system appears to reward a district's continued poor performance with more dollars."
The article noted that spending by New York City schools has risen 30 percent in the last three years, while enrollment is up only 2 percent. That pattern of large spending increases, and correspondingly small enrollment increases, has taken place in most districts across the state.
The Times based its analysis on data from school report cards that the state Education Department prepares for every school in the state. The report cards were first suggested by The Public Policy Institute, the research affiliate of The Business Council, in a 1988 report called Measuring Up In Our Schools.