Most states are providing less support per student for elementary and secondary schools than they did before the 2008 recession, the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities says.
A new report from the center says that at least 31 states provided less state funding per student in 2013-14 than in 2007-08. In at least 15 states, the cuts exceeded 10 percent.
“Our country’s future depends crucially on the quality of its schools, yet rather than raising K-12 funding to support proven reforms such as hiring and retaining excellent teachers, reducing class sizes, and expanding access to high-quality early education, many states have headed in the opposite direction,” the center says.
The center contends that many states chose to rely more on spending cuts rather than seeking to raise revenues.
“Cuts at the state level force local school districts to scale back educational services, raise more local revenue to cover the gap, or both,” the report says.
But for many districts, raising local revenue was difficult. Property values dropped because of the recession, creating a greater obstacle to acquiring more revenue through local property taxes.
The drop in support for K-12 education, the center asserts, is seen in these statistics: The number of public K-12 teachers and other school workers has fallen by 297,000 since 2008, while the number of students has risen by about 804,000.
The report identifies Arizona as the state with the greatest drop in state funding per pupil—a 23.3 percent decline from 2008 to 2014. The declining support impedes school district reforms efforts to boost student achievement, the center argues.
“At a time when producing workers with high-level technical and analytical skills is increasingly important to a country’s prosperity, large cuts in funding for basic education could cause lasting harm,” the report says.