$600 BILLION LOST

From edlawcenter.org

Introduction

In the decade following the Great Recession, students across the U.S. lost nearly $600 billion from the states’ disinvestment in their public schools. Data from 2008-2018 show that, if states had simply maintained their fiscal effort in PK-12 education at pre-Recession levels, public schools would have had over half a trillion dollars more in state and local revenue to provide teachers, support staff and other resources essential for student achievement. Further, that lost revenue could have significantly improved opportunity and outcomes for students, especially in the nation’s poorest districts.

The states dramatically reduced their investment in public education in response to the 2007 Great Recession. Yet as economies rebounded, states failed to restore those investments. As our analysis shows, while states’ economic activity — measured as Gross Domestic Product (GDP) — recovered, state and local revenues for public schools lagged far behind in many states.

This “lost decade” of state disinvestment has put public schools in an extremely vulnerable position as the nation confronts the coronavirus pandemic. Once again, state budgets are strained by declining revenues. And once again, school districts across the country are bracing for state aid cuts and the potential for reduced local support.

This report builds on our Making the Grade analysis of the condition of public school funding in the 50 states and the District of Columbia. Instead of a one-year snapshot, this report provides a longitudinal analysis of the effort made by states from 2008 to 2018 to fund their public education systems. We measure that effort using an index that calculates elementary and secondary education revenue as a percentage of each state’s economic activity or GDP.

A key goal of this report is to give advocates data and information to use in their efforts to press governors and state legislatures not to make another round of devastating “pandemic cuts” to already underfunded public schools.

Even as economies rebounded after the Great Recession,state legislatures chose not to reinvest in public education. 

Impact of the Great Recession on School Fundinghttps://public.tableau.com/views/MTG2020/EffortFig122?:embed=y&:showVizHome=no&:host_url=https%3A%2F%2Fpublic.tableau.com%2F&:embed_code_version=3&:tabs=no&:toolbar=yes&:animate_transition=yes&:display_static_image=no&:display_spinner=yes&:display_overlay=yes&:display_count=yes&:language=en&publish=yes&:loadOrderID=0

In 2007, the Great Recession caused a sharp decline in the state and local tax revenues that support public schools. States mitigated cuts to public education with a one-time federal stimulus program: the State Fiscal Stabilization Fund (SFSF) under the American Reinvestment and Recovery Act (ARRA). But many states were left with large, structural deficits in their education budgets when the one-time federal funds dried up.[1] Because states are legally required to have balanced budgets, these deficits, coupled in some states with tax cuts, triggered a cycle of deep and painful reductions in state support for K-12 public education across the country.[2]

Read more here.

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