Oh No! We’re Even With California

Getting more of the education dollars into the classroom has been a constant theme for Gov. Mitch Daniels and Superintendent of Public Instruction Tony Bennett. But in July, the State Budget Agency released a report that indicated Hoosier districts spent an average of 57.8% in the classroom in the 2008-2009 school year, a decrease from 60.6% the previous year.

These numbers always come with controversy. Districts themselves are much more generous with what qualifies as a classroom expenditure, so their numbers can often dramatically differ from what a government or independent review will find. The goal of 65% into the classroom is also not without dispute.

What makes this interesting at this time is that a Pepperdine University review of California education spending from 2003-2004 to 2008-2009 found that direct classroom expenditures statewide went from 59% to 57.8%. Yikes, we’re tied with California. When it comes to money and expenditures, that can’t be a good thing.

A couple of other nuggets from the Pepperdine report (where they evidently do have more than surfing as a major; really, it must be the college campus with the most scenic views):

  • School spending increased by 25.8% per capita during the five-year period. So much for all that talk about spending cuts
  • Teacher salaries and benefits accounted for 48% of spending, a lower number than I would have anticipated
  • The president of the California Foundation for Education and Commerce stated: "If California had the extra $1.8 billion that went to things other than teaching, we might have been able to hire more than 22,000 teachers statewide."