Feb. 10, 2014

Education Funding

Fact of the Week:

Timing/Affordability of Adequate Education Funding and NAEP Rankings

Timing: Current law requires the state cost per pupil to be determined within 30 days of release of the governor’s budget in the year prior to the budget year. The legislature should follow the law, set the cost per pupil during this legislative session for the 2015-16 school year, and allow school districts to meet planning, budgeting and bargaining deadlines, as well as fully engage in school reform efforts. Any delay in setting the rate will stymie the very school improvement the bi-partisan legislature and governor created last year. Setting the per pupil cost this session for the 2015-16 school year maintains the bi-partisan priority status of educating Iowa children.

Iowa’s economy and ability to pay: Iowa has a relatively low cost of living (ranking 15-16 in the nation) and a strong upward trend in per capita personal income, above USA average since 2011, according to the U. S. Bureau of Economic Analysis (their chart on the right). That makes an investment in Iowa education affordable for Iowans. Additionally, with full state economic emergency funds and cash reserve funds, any unforeseen downturn in revenues can be easily absorbed without big across-the-board cuts. 
Student Achievement: Although money doesn’t mean everything, we know that other states have gained ground on Iowa’s rankings in National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) math and reading at exactly the same time that our investment in education ranking has slipped (see last week’s funding fact for per pupil expenditure state ranking data.), We have accountability provisions in state and federal law and research-based strategies are being engaged to improve outcomes for students. Iowa education leaders will continue to invest our resources well with the intention of improving opportunities for students. We believe a world class education is important and possible for Iowa students, but can’t be done on the cheap. See the chart below net change in NAEP scores for Iowa and the nation over time:

Sources of data: Bureau of Economic Analysis, per capita personal income history by state Official site of the National Assessment of Educational Progress. 

Brought to you by the joint efforts of Iowa Association of School Boards, School Administrators of Iowa, Iowa Area Education Agencies, Iowa State Education Association, and the Urban Education Network of Iowa in support of adequate and timely school funding. 

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