Congress Can Improve School Finance Transparency


Congress Can Improve School Finance Transparency

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This piece originally appeared in The Hill.

As state legislative sessions open across the country, lawmakers are considering bills giving parents greater control over their children’s share of public school spending, following historic progress last year. But teachers unions and other opponents of education choice programs will likely leverage public misunderstanding about public school finances to oppose giving parents options beyond their children’s assigned public school. Correcting that misunderstanding should be a priority for school choice advocates in the new year.

Recent polling by EdChoice makes clear the extent of public misunderstanding and the importance of showing parents how public schools are financed. Summarizing the poll results, EdChoice researcher Colyn Ritter writes, “More than half of Americans say public school funding is too low — until they are shown how much schools actually spent.” Americans estimate that public schools spend about $5,000 per student, but actual national average per-pupil expenditure is nearly three times as much: roughly $14,000.

This discrepancy has an important implication for the school choice movement: Since state education savings accounts, tax credits, and scholarship programs generally provide parents with much less than that $14,000, improving the public’s understanding about what public schools actually spend could increase support for programs that offer parents new options.

Continue reading in The Hill.

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