Editor’s Note: Money alone doesn’t improve schools

Ingrid Jacques
The Detroit News

The state will soon get the results of a study that is supposed to shed light on whether Michigan offers schools enough money to do their job well. The company commissioned by the state to do the so-called adequacy study is already running behind; it was supposed to have its analysis wrapped up by the end of March. Now, Denver-based Augenblick, Palaich and Associates has moved the deadline to the middle of May.

Regardless of when the study gets turned in, the results are easy to predict. In the dozen other states where APA has conducted similar work, it almost always has pointed to a lack of funding as the root of school woes.

That plays in the favor of school districts and teachers unions and allows them to shift blame for lackluster performance. These studies are also often used as a tool to sue the state for more resources.

In light of this impending study, the Mackinac Center for Public Policy released a report last week that state lawmakers should consider along with the adequacy study.

The Mackinac Center found there is “no statistically significant correlation between how much money Michigan’s public schools spend and how well students perform academically.” This report, co-authored by Edward Hoang, a professor of economics at the University of Colorado, echos what numerous other studies have found: More money alone is not the answer to boost academic performance.

Michigan already is one of the highest spending states on K-12 schools — and one of the worst performing on standardized tests. Calling for more funding is easy, but it’s more important how that money is spent in the classroom.