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Spending — at least when it comes to public education — doesn’t guarantee results.

If this complaint sounds familiar, it’s because this problem has been addressed before.

Illinois spends $631 per pupil on the costs of administering K-12 public schools. That’s more than twice the national average.

Too many school districts, too many administrators, too many rules and regulations — they all cost a fortune.

Research by the Illinois Policy Institute’s Adam Schuster shows that Illinois was the only state to spend “more than $1 billion at the district level in 2018.” California, which has three times as many students as Illinois, spent $789 million.

That sad statistic demonstrates that it’s not necessarily how much money public bodies spend on public education, but how that money is spent.

Schuster contends that his analysis of education spending in Illinois shows it’s getting much less bang for its buck that other neighboring states.

For example, he notes, all of Illinois’ neighboring states “boasted higher graduation rates between 2003 and 2009” even though “Illinois’ per-pupil spending was the highest among neighboring states.”

“Illinois spent between 8 percent and 25 percent more per student, only to fall behind every neighboring states on reading assessments, according to the Nation’s Report Card. Similarly, all but two states, Kentucky and Missouri, outscored Illinois on math assessments,” states Schuster, the institute’s director of budget and tax research.

Schuster’s report said Illinois ranks 15th in per-pupil spending among the 50 states, but “falls to 27th in both math and reading assessments since 2003.”

Schuster’s ranking in overall spending was part of an analysis of the period from 2003 to 2019. He said “during that time, Illinois spent $11,875 per pupil on average.”

Even more disturbing are numbers from the Chicago Public Schools. They show that city’s lousing school system is hemorrhaging students while its costs have exploded.

Wirepoints reports that “CPS shrank by another 14,000 students this school year, a 4 percent-plus drop from last year’s 341,000 enrollment.”

It said the district has “lost 25 percent, or more than 100,000 students, since its population exceeded 430,000 in 2000.”

Those who remain clearly aren’t getting the education they need, obviously for a variety of reasons. Chicago schools are made up, mostly, of Black and Hispanic students. Just 11 percent are White.

Wirepoints said “just 30 percent of Black students meet or exceed reading standards in the third grade, and the number falls to just 14 percent for 11th-graders.”

That bleak picture does not reflect a lack of financial resources. The district’s operating expenses per student are $18,000, far above the $8,000 average in 2000.

Failure on a scale this grand already has and will continue to have dramatic negative social consequences.

Unfortunately, Illinois’ ship of state turns slowly, and that’s when the powers that be are committed to positive change. The failing status quo appears to be politically acceptable to those who have the position and power to move things ahead.

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