Does More Money for Education Really
Make a Difference?
One of the most enduring and perplexing questions in education is, "How much does it cost to educate a child?" Communities, states and the federal government have wrestled with the answer to this question. The original DeRolph decision in 1997 called for "a thorough and efficient system of common schools throughout the state." In Ohio, it has now been a full generation with that still not being met.
The answer has remained elusive here, as elsewhere. Governing Magazine
, ranks Ohio 19th
among the 50 states and District of Columbia on education spending and notes that "public school spending varies dramatically from one part of the country to another" with "wide variation in spending across states, regions and individual districts."
Today, many realize that the question above is better phrased as "How much does it cost to educate this child under these circumstances?" The recent release of Ohio Report Cards
and the new A-F grading system for districts dramatically underscores this dilemma with only 28 (less than 5% of the state's school districts) earning an "A".
All of this brings up an age-old argument, "Does more money really matter?"
New research from the Learning Policy Institute
(LPI) says, "Yes" with the caveat that "money spent wisely has a significant impact on positive student outcomes." The Institute points out that a new body of research contradicts studies from the 60s and 70s that do not meet rigorous methodological examination today. New findings indicate that:
Today, the evidence is clear that money that is thoughtfully and equitably spent does matter. Schools and districts with more money are able to provide higher quality, broader and deeper educational opportunities to the children they serve. Furthermore, the absence of adequate funding and deep cuts to existing funding leave schools unable to do many of the things necessary to develop or maintain the key elements of a quality education. As a result, achievement ultimately declines.
According to LPI, "While money alone will not solve all our educational challenges, there is no chance of them being solved without adequate and equitably distributed resources."
The Ohio Supreme Court has addressed the Constitutionality of Ohio's School Funding system on four separate occasions, known as DeRolph I-IV. See Section 2, Article VI, Ohio Constitution.
 Governing Magazine
, August 2016. States That Spend the Most (and the Least) on Education.
The Learning Policy Institute, (2018). How Money Matters for Schools.