Monday, October 28, 2013

Effective Educational Spending: Getting a Good Bang for Our Bucks

William J. Mathis, Managing Directer of the National Education Policy Center, released a policy brief, Effective Educational Spending: Getting a Good Bang for Our Bucks, earlier this year that summarized effective educational spending as quickly and directly as I have seen.  For the expert reader, the brief only touches the surface of various complex questions, but it provides a good starting point, particularly for people new to the field.  Each year, I supervise any number student papers and law review notes dealing with school finance in one way or another.  Because it is such a complex area and students often come to it with huge assumptions, Mathis's brief is a good place for them to start because it does not overwhelm them and focuses on basic.  

Mathis says “[t]he public debate has shifted from does money matter to where money matters.”  Most obviously, it matters in terms of "clean, adequate schools and learning supplies, qualified staff, and a 'well-organized climate.'"  In terms of things likely to increase student outcomes, Mathis offers the following, non-exclusive set of policies, each of which he indicates rest on a strong body of research:

  • Ameliorating negative effects of concentrated poverty;
  • Providing high-quality early education;
  • Engaging families continuously, including providing family, social and medical services;
  • Providing enriched learning opportunities after school and over the summer;
  • Providing high-quality full-day kindergarten;
  • Reducing class size, particularly for grades k-3;
  • Providing high-quality teachers; and
  • Providing increased funding and program support for economically disadvantaged children and English language learners.

His full brief is available here.  It is the 6th out of 10 briefs on the page.

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