- The Washington Times - Thursday, March 13, 2003

In the midst of the relentless whining emanating from the D.C. Council and the Board of Education over the alleged financial shortchanging of children attending public schools, the Census Bureau offered a dramatically different picture.
A report issued Tuesday revealed that current per-pupil spending for public schools is virtually as high in the District as it is in any of the 50 states. Specifically, for the school year ending in June 2001, the District spent $10,852 per student, a mere $70 per student behind New York State, the national leader. The District's per-pupil current expenditure exceeded the national average of $7,284 by more than $3,500, or 49 percent.
Regarding current spending and capital outlays (construction, equipment, etc.), the District's per-pupil figure was $15,122, a level that was far higher than a comparable figure for any state. Indeed, the highest level of total revenues of any state $12,454 for New Jersey was nearly $2,700 per pupil below the District's. Across the nation, moreover, total revenues available for current spending and capital outlays averaged $8,521 per pupil, a level the District's figure of $15,122 exceeded by more than $6,600 per student, or by an astounding 77 percent.
Using somewhat different criteria, the National Education Association (NEA), arrived at comparable relative spending levels between District and the rest of the nation for 2001. Based on average daily attendance, the NEA calculates that D.C. schools spent $13,525 per pupil in 2001, nearly $6,000 per student above the national average of $7,640. Like the Census Bureau's per-pupil differential, the NEA's figure for the District is a breathtaking 77 percent above the national average.
These figures put the lie to the assertions by the likes of D.C. Council member Adrian Fenty and School Board President Peggy Cooper Cafritz, who maintain that schools are significantly underfunded. The problem, quite obviously, isn't that D.C. taxpayers and the federal government are shortchanging the schools. The problem is that the schools have been shortchanging the students for years.

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