Mark J. Perry is concurrently a scholar at AEI and a professor of economics and finance at the University of Michigan's Flint campus. He is best known as the creator and editor of the popular economics blog Carpe Diem. At AEI, Perry writes about economic and financial issues for American.com and the AEIdeas blog.
Since 1970, inflation adjusted public school spending has more than doubled. Over the same period, achievement of students at the end of high school has stagnated according to the Department of Education’s own long term National Assessment of Educational Progress (see chart above). Meanwhile, the high school graduation rate has declined by 4 or 5%, according to Nobel laureate economist James Heckman.
So the only thing higher public school spending has accomplished is to raise taxes by about $300 billion annually, without improving outcomes. The fact that more schooling without more learning is not a recipe for economic growth is confirmed by the independent empirical work of economists Eric Hanushek and Ludger Woessmann. Their key finding is that academic achievement, not schooling per se, is what matters to economic growth.
Based on this body of research, the president’s decision to pump $100 billion into existing public school systems is likely slowing the U.S. economic recovery.