Revisiting the Age-Old Question: Does Money Matter in Education?

Through a set of carefully selected and presented
research findings (he attaches seventy-five endnotes to his eighteen-page
paper), Rutgers University education professor Bruce Baker uses this report to
refute what he calls the reformers’ “mantra”—that increased education spending,
in and of itself, will not lead to higher student achievement. Baker addresses
three related policy questions: Does money matter? Do schooling resources that
cost money (like class-size reduction) make a difference? And should states boost
funding for schools? Backed by his cherry-picked data, he answers yes to all
three. “When schools have more money, they have greater opportunity to spend
productively. When they don’t, they can’t,” his argument goes. Does that sound
to anyone else like a case for a blank check (unsurprising from the Shanker
Institute, a creature of the nation’s second-largest teacher union)? To his
credit, Baker does offer this disclaimer: There may be “better and more
efficient ways to leverage the education dollar toward improved student
outcomes.” In that case, we agree, because that’s the “mantra” most reformers
have actually been reciting.

For more on
this topic, check out Chris Tessone’s new Stretching
the School Dollar
blog.

Bruce Baker, Revisiting the Age-Old Question: Does Money
Matter in Education?
(Washington,
D.C.: The Albert Shanker
Institute, 2011).

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