The Wall Street Journal published an article by Kate Bachelder called “The Top 10 Liberal Superstitions.” The first “superstition” she cited was that “spending more money improves education.” Her proof: we have spent more money since 1970, but SAT scores and international scores have not gone up.

The article on the WSJ is behind a paywall, but on this site you can read the article in full. Here are two replies that should help to educate Ms. Bachelder and the readers of the WSJ:

 

 

 

Kate Bachelder’s first liberal superstition (“The Top 10 Liberal Superstitions,” op-ed, Oct. 31) is that “spending more money improves education” and she cites the fact that inflation-adjusted spending for K-12 has more than doubled since 1970, with corresponding decreases in SAT scores.

 

I don’t know what Ms. Bachelder’s age is, but I graduated from high school in 1971 and can say that up to that point in my public education my schools served exactly one special-education student. Spending on special education was nonexistent in 1970 as well as spending on teaching English to non-speakers. Oh, and I remember taking only one statewide test, in fifth grade, not the never-ending expensive testing regimen today’s students must endure.

 

Spending on education today can’t be equitably compared with spending in 1970, since we are now funding massive programs that didn’t exist 45 years ago.

 

Julie Hollingsworth

Fort Wayne, Ind.

 

 

Spending cuts in public education hurt children, families and eventually the economy. Cuts cause shortages of school nurses, libraries, fine arts and P.E., amenities taken for granted in private schools. They result in larger class sizes. At the same time states have slashed education funding ($5.4 billion in Texas in 2011), the number of students continues to increase, especially children who are low income and English-language learners. Educators aren’t making excuses when they point out that these children are more difficult to teach. Poor children suffer more toxic stress and move frequently. They have fewer books in the home (Beverley Hills’s average of 199 versus 0.4 in nearby Watts) and need more support from wraparound services. Slovakia is held up as an example for spending less on education, but 25% of U.S. children live in poverty compared with only 13% in Slovakia. In Texas over 60% of all public school children qualify for free or reduced lunch.

 

I respect Republicans for fiscal conservatism, but cutting public-education funding isn’t an investment in the future and doesn’t “conserve” the tradition of our public schools.

 

Sara Stevenson

Austin, Texas