Editor’s Note: This post was updated on March 9, 2009.
This week, education secretary Arne Duncan referred to DC public schools as a district with “more money than God.” Perhaps he was thinking of the $24,600 total per-pupil spending figure I reported last year in the Washington Post and on this blog. If so, he’s low-balling the number. With the invaluable help of my research assistant Elizabeth Li, I’ve just calculated the figure for the current school year. It is $26,555 per pupil.
In his address to Congress and his just-released budget, the president repeatedly called for efficiency in government education spending. At the same time, the Democratic majorities in the House and Senate have been trying to sunset funding for the DC voucher program that serves 1,700 poor kids in the nation’s capital. So it seems relevant to compare the efficiencies of these programs.
According to the official study of the DC voucher program, the average voucher amount is less than $6,000. That is less than ONE QUARTER what DC is spending per pupil on education. And yet, academic achievement in the voucher program is at least as good as in the District schools, and voucher parents are much happier with the program than are public school parents.
In fact, since the average income of participating voucher families is about $23,000, DC is currently spending almost as much per pupil on education as the vouchers plus the family income of the voucher recipients COMBINED.
So Mr. President and Secretary Duncan, could you please sit down with Democratic leaders in the Senate before next Monday’s vote on an amendment to keep funding the DC voucher program, and reassert to them your desire for efficiency and your opposition to kicking these children out of a program that they depend on?
Here are the details of, and sources for, the DC education spending calculation:
Excluding preschool, higher education, and charter schools, the main education expenditures in the District are as follows:
|Office of the Deputy Mayor for Education
|DCPS (k-12 relevant items only, see below)
|OSSE (k-12 relevant items only, see below)
|Office of Public Education Facilities Modernization
|Special Education Transportation**
|Total DC k-12 budget
|DCPS official total enrollment (incl. special ed.)
|Total per pupil spending
DC budget FY2009, Agency budget chapters, part 2
DC Budget FY2009, Capital Appendices, part 2
DC Budget FY2009, Operating Appendices, part 2
Linda Faison at DCPS, e-mail, March 5, 2009
The non-k-12 items excluded from the OSSE budget were:
amount code description
||public charter financing and support
||early care & education administration
||childcare program development
||pre-k and school readiness
||early childhood infants and toddlers
||income eligibility determination
||career & technical education
||post secondary educ & workforce readiness
||career and tech education
||adult and family education
The non-k-12 item excluded from the DCPS budget was:
amount code description
||early childhood education
Transfers from OSSE to DCPS (count in OSSE budget, but not in DCPS budget):
Revenue code Amount