Kevin D. Williamson, on NRO’s The Corner, has just posted a comment on Newsweek’s rankings of public high schools, and asks a good question: How much money per pupil do these high-achieving school districts spend? He cites some flossy districts in Pennsylvania that put out $23-$25,000 per pupil, and then mentions Lubbock, TX, which spends about $6,500.
When I worked for the local newspaper in Westfield, NJ, another high-achieving, high-spending community, the school board simply would never say what they spent per pupil. We could easily have published a fairly accurate number by dividing the annual school budget by the number of pupils (which Williamson mentions, and does), but our publisher was too chicken to do it.
Paul Mulshine, of the Newark Star-Ledger, annually compares per pupil spending in high- and low-achieving New Jersey school districts, with the sorry and expected result: Some of the most expensive districts perform the worst.
To be fair, some states support schools in different ways. In Texas, schools get some portion of state oil revenues, for example.
The point remains. It isn’t money that makes a good school. The disconnect is not total, but almost.