An analysis of state budget documents in 24 states where the necessary data were available shows that 21 are providing less funding per student to local school districts in the new school year than they provided last year.
The research by the Center on Budget and Budget Priorities also found that in 17 of those states, spending for fiscal 2012, adjusted for inflation, is lower than 2008 spending.
Of the states examined, Illinois had the largest percentage decrease in per-pupil expenditures from 2010-11 to 2011-12: Spending dropped 12.9 percent. In dollar amounts, the largest funding drop from the previous year was in Wisconsin: Spending dropped $635 per student.
Three of the 24 states reported higher spending in 2011-12: Maryland (4.6 percent), South Carolina (4.2 percent), and Massachusetts (2.6 percent).
When spending in fiscal 2012 is compared with fiscal 2008, 10 of the states reduced spending by more than 10 percent, and three states reduced spending by more than 20 percent.
The 24 states examined represent about two-thirds of the U.S. population, the center says.