California Spends $20,000 Per Student with Nothing to Show for It

Written by Nicholas Vetrisek

Once again, California has been caught mismanaging education funds and deliberately lying to receive even more money.

While proponents of teachers’ unions cry poverty by claiming that the state “only” spends $12,000 per student, ranking California 41st in the nation, the actual amount of spending is almost double that.

The $12,000 number is often used by the media despite the fact that there is no serious evidence to back it up. California Policy Center states that “after a six-day teacher strike in January 2019, the district and union settled on a contract that many questioned. Now, a year later, LAUSD officials admit that they spend $18,788 per student. But in a mid-January interview with EdSource, school superintendent Austin Beutner indicated that the district gets just $16,402 from the state to educate each child.”

Even the Los Angeles Unified School District, which would have a vested interest in using low numbers so as to receive more funding, puts the numbers at least 33 percent higher than the $12,000 figure suggests. 

On top of these numbers, there are also numerous other factors not being considered that push the total much higher. According to Ed Week, the report where the $12,000 number comes from, it took into account “teacher and staff salaries, classroom spending, and administration, but not construction or other capital [expenditures].”

When adding Prop 98, CalSTRS, and other expenditures from the governor’s budget in addition to the $15 billion that California taxpayers are spending on school bond debt, the total comes to $137.6 billion, or $20,642 per student. Far from 41st, this number means that California spends more money per pupil than any state in the country.

Despite these massive spending numbers, California still ranks consistently near the bottom for education quality. As it turns out, throwing money at a problem won’t fix it, especially in the case of California where the money goes to fund idiotic policies and inept bureaucracies. The problems facing California’s educational system are clearly not financial ones, but the real issues will not be addressed because if government officials truly wanted to know where the problem lies, they would only look in one place: the mirror.


Photo by Jp Valery