Faced with massive budget deficits, states and districts nationwide are slashing education dollars. At the same time, there seems to be a concerted effort among some politicians and privatization advocates to convince the American public that more education spending won't help students, while cutting funding will do no harm—in other words, that money doesn't really matter.
A new report from the Albert Shanker Institute, written by school finance expert and Rutgers University professor Bruce Baker, reviews the large body of empirical research on the relationship between funding and education outcomes. In "Revisiting the Age-Old Question: Does Money Matter in Education?" Baker points out that claims that "money doesn't matter" are based either on ignorance or a misunderstanding of the research, which shows that overall expenditures have a consistently positive impact on student performance.
Moreover, he concludes that "schooling resources which cost money, including class size reduction or higher teacher salaries, are positively associated with student outcomes." Finally, reviewing the high-quality evidence on the effect of school finance reforms, he asserts: "Sustained improvements to the level and distribution of funding across local public school districts can lead to improvements in the level and distribution of student outcomes."
More money will not solve all our education problems—some things work, and others don't—but, as Baker explains: "Sufficient financial resources are a necessary underlying condition for providing quality education. … When schools have more money, they have greater opportunity to spend productively. When they don't, they can't." [Matthew Di Carlo]
January 10, 2012