What Will the Sequester Do to Education Spending in Your State?

With the sequester looming large, Business Insider has created a  set of interactive maps to demonstrate which states will be hit the hardest by cuts to the education budget. “The report [from the National Education Association] claims that, if the cuts kick in, 7.4 million students would be affected — which means that either the quality of education they receive will go down or be eliminated entirely. The funding cuts could also lead to 49,365 potential job losses,” writes Lisa Mahapatra. “But not all states will feel the hit equally. With more than $100 million cuts to their education budget, the states that will be most affected by the sequester are California, Texas, Illinois, New York and Florida.”

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  1. J Thomas says:

    Unfortunately the maps don’t show per-capita distributions so they tend to look like population density maps.

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  2. John McKay says:

    Interesting charts/story, but it’d make more sense if the data were per capita. I know CA will lose more funding than AZ, but CA has 5x as many people, too.

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  3. Mark says:

    It looks like a population map. Per capita might have been more useful. http://imgs.xkcd.com/comics/heatmap.png

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  4. Matt says:

    The five states that are going to experience the largest absolute cuts are the five states with the largest populations. Shocking!

    Relevant: http://xkcd.com/1138/

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  5. Cory says:

    Why is it assumed that sequestration will cause losses to educational quality when we haven’t seen a rise in educational quality (student performance) with budget gains in the last few decades? Most of the increases in the budget goes to overhead and other services, not to variables that factor into student performance.

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    • Allen says:

      Amen. And another thing, most of these cuts have little to do with actual education. Picking Texas as an example:
      Grants to Local Educational Agencies (not actual schools)
      School Improvement Grants (nice new carpets, not education)
      Improving Teacher Quality Grants (teacher bonuses – nice, but not education)
      Special Education Grants (okay, education)
      Federal Work-Study (nice, but not education)
      Head Start (as Freakonomics demonstrates, well-meaning but completely ineffective)
      Vocational Rehabilitation Grants (well-meaning, but not education)
      These are all nice things, but is the marginal dollar spent on Federal Work Study really move important than, for example, not taxing business owners so they could create an actual job?

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      • tung bo says:

        Making the tradeoff between job creation and Federal Work Study is a false dichotomy. There is ONE overall discretionary budget. The questions is allocation between competing interests which have no clear priorities. Is it better to create another job serving fast food or is it better to train an agronomist who could increase the yields of our grains?

        The more clear responsiblity falls on those who don’t wish to be responsible for making such allocation decisions (i.e. politicians who don’t want their vote on record). Those who obstruct decision all the time may gain by showing “government don’t work’. That is a very irresponsible position for any one who actually runs for office. Whatever reservations they have about the system, they should try their best to make it work. Otherwise, the end points would be anarchism or mob/gang rule.

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      • James says:

        “And another thing, most of these cuts have little to do with actual education.”

        Yes. I do have to wonder sometimes. The local/state education establishment has been complaining about lack of funding for as long as I can remember, yet when I go for an afternoon hike up in the foothills, I can see that:

        1) Every high school has a groomed and floodlit football field; and
        2) The floodlights are all lit hours before sunset.

        I can’t claim omniscience, but I think it’s a fair guess that either a) money isn’t all that tight, or b) spending the money on actual education isn’t the school administration’s #1 priority. Or, of course, both.

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    • Enter your name... says:

      Because in the short term, “loss of funding” means “fire teachers” and “stop buying supplies”.

      In the long term, higher spending doesn’t necessarily mean better education, but in the short term, sudden reductions in spending almost always mean worse education.

      If you could reduce bureaucratic requirements (e.g., do not submit reports on treatment of disabled children or the number of students graduating, and who cares if your budget is balanced?), stop “social” programs like anti-gang, anti-drug, anti-tobacco, anti-bullying, anti-racist, anti-violence, etc. programs, end “medical” programs like counseling for abused or mentally ill children, get rid of guidance counselors that make sure students take the classes they need and have information about college and vocational training, stop school buses and lunch programs, toss out physical education and sports programs, dump “frills” like computers and microscopes, fire the security staff, and so forth, you could cut costs and not hurt reading and math achievement overall.

      But every one of those programs exists because we thought it was valuable enough to make it required or at least available: Submitting to a state audit reduces district bankruptcies and embezzlement. School buses are cheaper than parents driving kids to school and also increase attendance. Hungry kids don’t learn well. Documenting the progress of disabled students increases what we teach them. So think about what you really want before you decide that these “non-classroom” expenses are all wasteful.

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      • Dave F. says:

        In my state (AZ), average cost per k-12 student in the state was over $9000 and they were still trying to pass proposition 204 to get that increased by tacking on an additional 1% to sales tax in the state. At 30 kids per classroom, do you think it should cost

        Educational expenses don’t always increase because “we thought it was valuable enough.” Rather, they happen because it is a politically feasible way for the bureaucracy to grow. When was the last time you saw any SPECIFICS of school legislation on a ballot? It simply doesn’t happen. School is also an issues where all the ‘experts’ have a vested interest and we trust them.

        “Who cares if your budget is balanced?” – Typical. Let us ignore the realities of the world altogether. It is this kind of rhetoric that successful allows educators to push for more and more money even while waste and lack of competition allow results to drop.

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      • JenPA says:

        Dave – you missed the point. Those were EYN’s examples of necessary “bureaucratic” overhead that costs money. Unless you happen to know any accountants that provide this service for free.

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      • J1 says:

        I wouldn’t have any problem dumping the social programs you list; the security personnel can handle the anti-gang/bullying/violence/drug function. Anti-tobacco/racist programs actually exacerbate the problems they claim to address, so let’s dump them now regardless of funding issues. The jobs you list for guidance counselors could easily be automated (seriously, kids need a guidance counselor to determine what high school classes to take?). I’d hang on to buses, P.E. (make it mandatory and much tougher) and the lunch program.

        Some other funding ideas that could be implemented today: allow advertising at sports facilities and rent school facilities out on weekends, both of which bring in considerable amounts of money (especially the latter, very popular with churches). You could go beyond these and sell advertising on the outside of your school buses, and naming rights to your sports facilities, etc. I know a lot of people in the education profession object to this sort of “commercialization”. They’re idiots; don’t listen to them.

        Funding ideas that would take longer: I went to primary and secondary school in California, and one thing they could do is consolidate into MUCH larger schools where logistics permit. When I lived in the Dallas area, some high schools had 2000+ students, and that was for two grades (9-10th graders and 11-12th graders went to separate schools). It was much cheaper per student and didn’t seem to have a negative impact on student achievement, academically anyway (the athletic teams might as well be pro). On that note, you can charge non-students much higher ticket prices (go to San Antonio and try to buy a ticket to a Judson HS football game sometime) and sell season tickets. You could probably create efficiencies/bring in enough money to pay for useful social programs. After you funded title IX. Better yet, let’s get rid of title IX.

        Finally, how about a hard cap on classroom to non-classroom employee ratios (i.e. for every 100 teachers, no more than 50 administrative staff).

        If schools were more efficient and implemented some fund raising methods, they could probably get to where federal funding was irrelevant. Then we could get rid of the Dept of Education, cut billions from the federal budget and eliminate federal meddling in a local issue.

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  6. Taylor Smith says:

    As many have already said, this is a population density map. I would find it interesting to adjust it, not per-capita as others have said, but as a percentage of the total education budget.

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  7. Voice of Reason says:

    I’m all for excellance in education, but people need to remember that education is not supposed to be handled on the national level. As the constitution required, it is something to be taken care of on a state and/or local level. Giving more money to the Department of Education is just shoving the scrantron standardized teaching to the test type of education down our throats. .

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  8. California mom says:

    So I live in California with 2 kids in public education. The article said “decimated” by the 280+million dollar cuts. So California has over 6 milion kids in schools (some of them are in private schools). Cost to my children is about $45-50 a head, if that. As the Texas post pointed out, the hit is more felt with pre-schoolers and special ed kids.

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    • James says:

      Yes, the use of a dictionary would have been advisable. Decimate is to reduce by a tenth. Per a quick search, California spent $58.9 billion on education in the 2009-10 fiscal year. $280 million is what, about half a percent of that?

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      • Jeff says:

        No. The protestation of “decimate” as used here is a grammar myth, similar to not ending a sentence with a preposition.


        “‘Decimate’ has its etymological root in the Latin word for ‘tenth,’ and it shares that root with words like ‘decimal’ and ‘decimeter.’ Because of these historical and etymological roots, some people believe that the only proper way to use ‘decimate’ is to talk about something reduced by precisely 10 percent.

        Usage experts disagree. The Merriam-Webster Dictionary of English Usage (MWDEU), for example, notes that ‘decimate’ has never been used this way in English. Although there is an entry for the ‘reduction by 10 percent’ meaning in the Oxford English Dictionary (OED), it contains no example sentences, which is unusual. The MWDEU editors believe that the OED definition was included merely to bridge the gap between the Roman practice and the standard English meaning, which is ‘a massive or severe reduction.'”

        So maybe they did use a dictionary, and realized it’s fine.

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      • Jeff says:

        Though at a half a percent, you could argue that the reduction is neither massive nor severe.

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      • James says:

        OK, so I’ll accept that insisting that decimate should be used to describe reductions of exactly a tenth is a bit on the pedantic side, but still, half a percent is in no way ‘a massive or severe reduction.’

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    • Dave F. says:

      Yeah, my only worry here is the powerful bureaucracy will protect itself and cut many of the essentials, blaming the government for cuts. As a California voter, make sure this happens without mass firing of teachers!

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      • James says:

        Exactly. As with for instance the National Park Service claiming that funding reductions will force them to close hiking trails. It should be obvious that not only do trails cost nothing to keep open (other than perhaps some irregular maintenance every few years, or – in some cases I know – decades, it costs extra money to enforce the closures.

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