Are We “Shortchanging Education?”

The House and Senate have now passed their own budgets. The House relies on a broad basket of economically-harmful tax hikes and very little in the way of spending cuts. The Senate relies instead on controversial food taxes and regressive tobacco tax hikes. The Senate cuts a bit more in terms of spending.

An interesting opinion piece from Republican legislator and education administrator Dennis Roch appeared in the Albuquerque Journal recently. While Roch makes a good case against spending massive amounts of taxpayer money on the Spaceport and RailRunner, both of which we have spoken out against, Roch argues that if we reduce education spending, we are “shortchanging” it.

Quite simply, he has no way to back this up for the simple fact that our entire K-12 education system is socialized. Absent price signals which tend not to be found in socialized systems, determining the optimal allocation of resources is nearly impossible. That said, if the Soviet Union is any indicator, the allocation of resources in socialized economic systems are horribly inefficient. We can therefore assume that our K-12 system is not very efficient (duh).

Of course, we know that New Mexico’s graduation rate is 54%. We also know that New Mexico spends more per capita than most other states and on support services. Mind you, this is in comparison with other socialized school systems that achieve far better results, typically with fewer resources.

Aside from balancing the budget, the Legislature should be focused like a laser on improving educational results, but instead we get the Hispanic Education Act which will do nothing to improve results (regardless of demographics). Are we shortchanging education? Well, in terms of adopting solutions that work, we are, but in terms of money it seems hard to believe that we are.