Dismantling The Post-Dispatch’s Piece About Education (Part 2 of 4)
The St. Louis Post-Dispatch editorial board recently issued an opinion piece riddled with errors, faulty assumptions, and half-truths. This post is the second of four posts (part 1, part 3, and part 4) that aims to point out where the editorial board got it wrong.
Fallacy 2: Real spending on Missouri’s education system has been decreasing
The editors of the Post-Dispatch wrote: “Almost every budget in Missouri produces more education dollars than the one the year before. Mostly that’s because of the realities of inflation. If the education budget is measured in constant dollars, the story is entirely different.”
The editorial board is implying that real spending on education has not been increasing. In fact, they say “schools have less buying power nearly every year.”
According to data from the Missouri Department of Elementary and Secondary Education, state and local dollars in 2008 kept pace with inflation in 2009, but dropped off with the recession in 2010. Since then, state and local spending has increased approximately 5 percent. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, state and local spending fell off the pace of inflation by just three-tenths of a percentage point.
So yes, if we look at the facts with blinders on, it does appear that legislators are not keeping pace with inflation.
This, however, is a short-sighted analysis and ignores the long-term reality. From 1992 to 2008, we increased spending on education in Missouri by nearly 40 percent in inflation-adjusted dollars. These data come from the Digest of Education Statistics Table 194.
Real spending on education has taken a slight hit in recent years due to the recession, but over the course of the past 20 years, the state has continually increased education spending.