Washington Policy Center Releases New Study on Public School Funding

Aug 31, 2006

Seattle - Washington Policy Center, the state's premier independent public policy research organization, this week released a new study, "An Overview of Public School Funding in Washington."

The comprehensive study examining education funding shows:

  • Washington state operating expenditures for K-12 public schools increased almost 92 percent since 1982, even though student population increased by only 36 percent.
  • Public schools spend 50 percent more per student than private schools, and generally achieve poorer academic results.
  • Less than half of Washington's public school students pass all sections of the Washington Assessment for Student Learning (WASL) test. Since 1990 Washington has spent over $1.7 billion in targeted appropriations on various education reform initiatives all aimed at increasing student achievement.

The study shows that while education spending in Washington has increased sharply, there has only been a slight increase in student performance. A great proportion of current public education money should be spent in the classroom, to help teachers educate students more effectively.

The study finds that education leaders should decentralize the management of education by giving local principals more control over spending decisions. Each principal should then be held accountable for how his or her school is accomplishing its education mission.

"Increasing the budget for education in Washington state will not help student performance unless we allocate the money where it is most needed," says President of Washington Policy Center Dann Mead Smith. "Policymakers should focus on proven reforms and keeping current testing standards to improve our schools and raise public trust in Washington's public school system."

The study is available online by clicking here or by requesting a free hard copy. Contact Lyndsey Hartje at lhartje@washingtonpolicy.org or call 206-937-9691 for more information on how to receive this publication or for questions and comments.