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**Failing at a High Price: New York Public Schools Lead in National Rankings**

proposes an increase of $825 million in public-school funding for the next year.

However, there is discontent among school districts and the teachers union because her budget would no longer guarantee that districts receive the same level of funding as the previous year, even if they are serving fewer students.

“Why should we allocate funds for students who are no longer present?” Hochul rightfully questioned.

The enrollment in New York’s public schools decreased by 180,000 from 2002 to 2020, with an additional loss of 160,000 students during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Therefore, it is logical to cease providing financial support for these absent students.

Further Exploration

Despite this, the state Senate and Assembly intend to continue providing funding to districts for students who are no longer enrolled.

A recent study by the New Reason Foundation raises concerns about the effective utilization of taxpayer funds in New York’s public schools.

The study revealed that between 2002 and 2020, prior to the substantial influx of federal COVID-19 aid for schools, New York led the nation in inflation-adjusted public-school spending, increasing from \(18,054 to \)30,723 per student.

Despite a decrease of over 6% in student population, the state’s public schools hired thousands of new staff members.

There has been a significant shift in taxpayer funds towards covering the increasing benefits of these employees, such as pensions and health insurance. Education-benefit spending in New York surged by 141% from 2002 to 2020, now amounting to $7,000 per student, the highest in the nation.

Given such substantial expenditure, one would expect New York to boast top-tier public schools. However, the National Assessment of Educational Progress test scores in reading and math in New York saw minimal improvement from 2003 to 2019, positioning the state in the lower half of states according to the Reason Foundation’s analysis.

Most concerning is the decline in fourth- and eighth-grade reading scores in the state.

Furthermore, the academic performance of low-income students stagnated, with New York’s low-income fourth graders ranking 41st in math nationwide, lagging behind states like Arkansas, Mississippi, and Georgia, which allocate considerably less funding to public education.

These underwhelming outcomes in relation to the investment in K-12 education in New York underscore that funding alone does not guarantee academic success.

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The allocation and utilization of funds play a crucial role, as exemplified by Florida’s educational system.

Florida, despite ranking 43rd in spending growth since 2002 and spending significantly less per student compared to New York in 2020, has achieved remarkable results. It ranks among the top 10 states in student improvement across all four NAEP exams.

Moreover, Florida’s low-income fourth graders lead the nation in both reading and math, driven by substantial progress from 2003 to 2019.

A key distinction lies in the competitive environment of Florida’s public schools, where they must vie for students, unlike in New York where there is little incentive for improvement.

In Florida, dissatisfied parents have the option to redirect their funding to private schools through various school-choice programs.

Approximately 1.7 million students in Florida, nearly half of all K-12 students, participate in some form of school choice, with over 700 charter schools available. Parents can freely enroll their children in any public school due to an open-enrollment policy that permits transfers to schools with available seats.

In contrast, New York lacks a private school-choice program, being one of only 18 states without one. Additionally, its charter-school law imposes a cap on charters statewide and has stringent open-enrollment regulations, allowing public schools to charge tuition to transfer students, effectively hindering low-income students from accessing better educational opportunities.

Despite experiencing significant declines in enrollment in recent years, Governor Hochul’s proposal would still increase overall state education funding by $825 million.

The primary critics of public-education funding should be the students and parents, who are not receiving adequate value for the funds allocated.

Aaron Garth Smith, the director of education reform at Reason Foundation and author of the new study “Public education at a crossroads: A comprehensive look at K-12 resources and outcomes,” provided this analysis.