States Spending the Most on Education

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5. Mississippi
> Spending per pupil: $7,928
> Total education spending: $4.3 billion (18th lowest)
> Pct. with high school diploma: 81.1% (3rd lowest)
> Median household income: $36,919 (the lowest)

More than 22% of funding for the Mississippi school system came from the federal government, more than any other state, indicating a great need for money. Mississippi was fifth from the bottom in spending teacher salaries and classroom costs, at $4,563. It was sixth lowest in funding for support services, at just $2,840 per pupil. At both the fourth- and eighth-grade levels, Mississippi had the smallest percentage of students proficient in math of all states. In addition, the state had the smallest percentage of eighth graders proficient in reading among all states.

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4. Arizona
> Spending per pupil: $7,666
> Total education spending: $8.6 billion (23rd highest)
> Pct. with high school diploma: 85.7% (17th lowest)
> Median household income: $46,709 (21st lowest)

The Arizona school system received just $8,806 per pupil in revenue from all sources. The state gave less financial support per pupil than almost any other state at just $3,227 per student in 2011, the second-lowest amount per pupil. This accounted for just 36.6% of all funding to Arizona schools, while schools nationwide received 44.4% of their funds from their state. As of fiscal 2011, the Arizona school system received 48.4% of its funding from local sources, higher than the 43.3% share for all schools nationwide. This, however, may change soon. In November, 2012, a ballot proposal that would have made a temporary sales tax hike permanent failed. The tax increase, passed in 2010, had been used largely to support the state’s schools during the peak of the recession.

3. Oklahoma
> Spending per pupil: $7,587
> Total education spending: $5.6 billion (19th lowest)
> Pct. with high school diploma: 86.3% (19th lowest)
> Median household income: $43,225 (10th lowest)

The Oklahoma school system spent just $4,311 per student on teaching costs, lower than all but three other states. Of this, $2,758 was spent on support services, less than all but five other states. The 3.9% drop in spending for Oklahoma schools between 2010 and 2011 was one of the largest decreases of any state. Of the money spent on the school system, 16.6% came from the federal government, more than all but six other states. The 36.4% that came from local sources was less than the 43.3% that came from local sources for all schools across the country. One accomplishment for Oklahoma’s education track record is that in 1998 it was the first state to adopt a mandatory preschool program.

2. Idaho
> Spending per pupil: $6,824
> Total education spending: $2.0 billion (7th lowest)
> Pct. with high school diploma: 88.6% (23rd highest)
> Median household income: $43,341 (11th lowest)

From 2006 to 2011, the Idaho school system spent less per student than any other state except for Utah. Yet, despite trailing the rest of the nation for years in per-student spending, expenditure fell by 4% between 2010 and 2011. The state itself, though, may not be at fault, funding more than 63% of education revenue in Idaho — the fifth-highest proportion percentage in the country. Arguing that the state’s school system can spend less and get the same quality education, Idaho Senator Jim Patrick told KMVT that “there’s a lot of difference in costs” between his state and the higher spenders.” Idaho had one of the lowest costs of living in the nation, while the highest-spending states, such as New York and Alaska, had especially high costs.

1. Utah
> Spending per pupil: $6,212
> Total education spending: $4.2 billion (16th lowest)
> Pct. with high school diploma: 90.3% (14th highest)
> Median household income: $55,869 (14th highest)

Utah spent less per student on elementary and secondary education than any other state in the nation. Utah ranked dead last in spending per student on both teaching costs and support services, at $3,956 and $1,868, respectively. Despite the low spending, Utah’s test scores in reading and math in both the fourth and eighth grades are only slightly below average. More than 90% of Utah adults have graduated high school, among the top third of all states.

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