In a new Washington Post op‐ed, University of Virginia Curry School of Education dean Robert Pianta offers an assertion that is shocking, at least if you follow education policy: “public funding for schools has actually decreased since the late 1980s, adjusting for constant dollars.” It is shocking because federal, inflation‐adjusted data show nothing even close to that, as you can see in the chart below.
This spending data is well‐known among wonks, and while it is open to some interpretation, I can find nothing supporting Pianta’s claim. His piece includes a link to a U.S. Commission on Civil Rights report, but I found nothing in it backing up his assertion. Bruce Baker of Rutgers, who is a supporter of Pianta’s argument that spending more on education would make a big difference, has also failed to see the basis for his claim.
Of course, it is possible I am missing something, and I hope Pianta will clarify the assertion. But until he does, the play stands as called: inflation‐adjusted K‑12 spending has risen substantially since the 1980s.