The excellent blog Sound Politics had a great post yesterday by Marsha Michaelis, revealing how little Washington state residents know about current levels of public school funding. Washington is fairly close to the national average, with total per-pupil spending in 2004-05 coming in at $10,121. Only 12 percent of Washingtonians surveyed came within $2,000 of that figure. (There’s nothing special about Washington state in this regard, by the way. A similar knowledge gap was found earlier this year in Florida).
When asked if $10K was too low, too high, or about right, 61 percent of Washingtonians said it was either too high or about right.
In other words, the reason taxpayers keep voting to increase public school spending is that they have no idea what is being spent per child now. If they did know, they’d stop feeding the beast.
But why doesn’t the public know how much the public schools spend per-pupil? I’ll let Marsha explain that one.