New York spends 90 percent more than the national average per pupil to educate public school students, though newly re-elected Gov. Andrew Cuomo acknowledges “right now we have no idea where the money is going.”
Average spending per pupil in New York topped $22,000 in 2016, according to data released by the U.S. Census Bureau on Monday.
The figure dwarfs other eastern states that also top the list, including the District of Columbia, Connecticut, New Jersey and Vermont, none of which broke $20,000 per pupil, the Democrat & Chronicle reports.
In total, New York took in almost $67 billion in tax money for schools, and was only outspent by California at $87 billion. New York educates roughly 2.6 million students, less than half as many as California’s 6.2 million students.
About $36 million in New York funding came from property taxes, about $27 million from the state budget, and almost $4 million came in the form of federal aid.
Morris Peters, spokesman for the state Budget Division, justified the state’s massive education budget as a pathway to prosperity for “all children” in the Empire State.
“Education has long been Governor Cuomo’s top funding priority,” Peters said. “Investments in prekindergarten and community schools, coupled with reforms that ensure transparency in how funding is distributed, are transforming public education across the state and providing all children with the opportunity to be successful.”
But even Cuomo himself doesn’t seem so sure that’s the case.
The governor is among critics of the state’s school funding formula who have argued it discriminates against poorer school districts.
“It’s not enough to give funding to the poor districts. You have to make sure the money goes to the poorest schools, in the poorer districts,” Cuomo said during a budget address in January. “Right now we have no idea where the money is going.”
Despite the confusion, New York lawmakers have dialed up the spending by 36 percent since 2012, including a 5.5 percent increase between 2015 and 2016. The national average for school spending increased only 3.2 percent to $11,762, for comparison.
New York’s increased spending, however, hasn’t necessarily correlated to improved student performance when compared to other states. USA Today highlighted Education Week’s 2018 “Quality Counts” report published in February that shows New York came in ninth in state school rankings behind several states that spent considerably less per pupil.
About 31 percent of New York eighth-graders scored proficient in math in NEAP tests, and 32.8 percent cleared that hurdle for reading, while those figures were 36 percent in math and 39 percent in reading for eighth-place Pennsylvania, which spent well over $3,000 less per student.
In Massachusetts, which topped the list, the state spent $14,569 per pupil to achieve an 87.5 percent graduation rate, compared to New York’s 80.4 percent graduation rate. Bay State students also scored much higher on the NEAP tests, with 50.8 percent proficient in math and 45.7 proficient in reading.