December 11, 2019 11:14AM

Absent Further Review, the Spending Stands as Called

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.

K-12 spending since 1979-80, inflation-adjusted

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.