Does More Money Mean Better Education?
It’s 4:00 on a Tuesday afternoon, meaning parents like Latrice Fellows are patiently waiting outside her child’s school.
“Whatever he wants to do, I want to be the best supportive mom for him,” stated Fellows as she sat in her idling car.
Like most parents, Fellows wants better for her son.
“More structure and motivate him to be great,” she explained. “That is what I want.”
But this single mom who works at a security company, was saddened to hear how Maryland and particularly Baltimore City recently performed on national test scores released by the Federal government. The report, known as The Nation’s Report Card, show Baltimore City is one of the worst performing District’s in America. Released last week, the data also show Maryland students overall are not improving. That reality has sparked a debate over the future of education in The Free State.
“The data was not surprising,” said Sheryl Bost, the Vice President of the Maryland State Education Association, the state’s largest union. She’s not surprised because she blames Maryland’s lack of success on a lack of state funding. Better test scores, according to Bost, come with greater investments in teachers and technology.
“As an educator from a Title 1 School, I can tell you when you reduce class sizes and provide those supports you can see gains in achievement, but we’ve stagnated because the money just isn’t there for the state of Maryland,” added Bost.
Carroll County Delegate Susan Krebs disagrees, saying the money is there – the problem is how it’s spent.
“It’s not just about money. We keep talking about how much money can we spend,” stated Krebs.Project Baltimore wondered, do these test results show a connection between money and success? Here’s what we found.
Baltimore, according to the U.S. Census, spends $15,818 per student, per year. Boston spends much more, at $21,552 and has better test scores via The Nation’s Report Card. But then, there’s cities like Miami and Houston, which spend much less – under $9,000 per student - and perform much better than Baltimore and just as well as Boston.
Per Student Spending Average Test Scores
Miami $8,871 252
Houston $8,346 241
Boston $21,552 247
Baltimore $15,818 227
“In the city of Baltimore, there is about 4 percent of kids reading at grade level. Yet, we pumped all this new money in over the last decade,” said Krebs. “We have to focus on student achievement.”
Krebs points to how, next year, Annapolis will spend $8 billion on public education - 18 percent of the total budget. Bost feels that numbers needs to go up, way up.
Sheryl Bost: Maryland State Education Association
“We do a good job in Maryland, but studies have shown we can do a lot better,” Bost replied.
As for Fellows, she says she doesn’t know what the answer is. She just focuses on filling the gaps that the school system leaves behind.
“I want him to be the best him he can be, so if I have to give that extra 50 percent where they are lacking, I’ll do that. I want him to be great,” concluded Fellows.