•February 17, 2016•
By Jim Nowlan
NP Guest Columnist
First, I want to apologize for playing fast and loose with some misleading factoids last week in a column about Texas and Illinois. I know better; surface statistics can as often obfuscate as illuminate.
I noted that Texas spends about $8,000 per pupil annually on it public school kids while Illinois spends $12,000 and change, a huge difference. This is fact, according to the U.S. Bureau of the Census, which surveys such matters and should be a credible source.
This does not mean, however, that Illinois pupils have on average that much more in financial support. Illinois does pay its teachers, on average again, about $10,000 more per year than do Texas schools, and this amounts to about $600 per pupil of the $4,000 per pupil difference I noted last week.
Much, maybe most, of the rest of the difference apparently results from the dramatic growth in Illinois pension payments in recent years, including those for teachers. This year Illinois will put $3.7 billion into the teachers’ retirement system in an effort to reduce unfunded liabilities, five times as much as the state contributed just a decade ago.
Of course, pension payments don’t go into the classroom, so my factoid about spending differences was misleading. Sorry.
All of which brings me to my topic for the week: Illinois school funding disparities, which are worse than for just about any state in the nation and have been thus for decades. Read More