Forty-Ninth. According to educational activists and law makers that’s North Carolina’s purported ranking among the fifty states on per pupil spending. Over the last several months it’s been difficult to avoid a conversation when the number hasn’t been invoked as a reason why we need to spend more on public education.
Where did the number come from? Good question. My colleague Terry Stoops of the John Locke Foundation has been one of the few researchers who has openly challenged the ranking. Yesterday Stoops, Director of Education Studies at the John Locke Foundation, reported that North Carolina is 42nd in per pupil sending — not 49th. He cites statistics from the National Education Association’s Rankings of the States 2011 and Estimates of School Statistics 2012. Last year NEA reported North Carolina was 45th in per pupil spending.
So when the legislature passed a thinner budget last June, many howled that North Carolina spending for education had fallen relative to other states. The only problem: they failed to realize other states pass budgets too. I guess it’s also worth reporting that North Carolina’s relative ranking on per pupil spending did not decline as previously reported; but actually increased three spots.
Do you think you’ll find that reported in many publications?