In reality, NM is spending a lot more on K-12 education

Our friends at the Foundation for Education Choice have updated a great study that tracks the staffing surge (especially among non-teaching bureaucrats) on a state-by-state basis within our education system.

Nationally, since 1992, Inflation-Adjusted Per-Pupil Spending has risen by 27% while average teacher salaries have dropped by 2%. In New Mexico, per-student spending has risen by an astonishing 44% and teacher salaries have risen by 3%. See chart at bottom of this post.

It is clear that while school systems across the nation are spending considerably more per-student in real terms that money is not making its way to educators themselves. The report details that in tremendous detail.

In New Mexico, per-pupil spending has truly skyrocketed and, while teacher pay hasn’t grown dramatically, it has grown in real terms. Simply put, the idea that education spending in New Mexico is “inadequate” is absurd. There is definitely room for shifting resources into the classroom and away from bureaucrats, but this has not been done here.

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7 Replies to “In reality, NM is spending a lot more on K-12 education”

  1. Something that tends to be overlooked in discussions on school spending is “ability to pay”. In the tables comparing state revenue and spending on education compiled by the Census Bureau is one that I’ve pointed out to people before (but seldom comes up in these discussions). This table ranks spending by $1000 of personal income in the state. See Table 12 in the “State Level Tables” at:

    There we find that NM ranks 10th in elementary and secondary education revenue per $1000 in personal income. When one looks at rankings of ‘Current Spending’ (excluding capital expenditures) the rank drops to 21st and in the ‘Instruction Spending’ down to 25th. As such, in terms of spending compared to income, NM spends well above the national average (or in the case of instruction spending, right at the national average). We do tend to spend considerably more though as a percentage to total spending on capital expenditures (buildings, etc.) and on administration.

    Given these numbers one is inclined to think that it might be more worthwhile to better use the money that is already being spent on education (less building and administration and more on instruction, say) rather than to ask people in a low income state to cough up even more of their already limited disposable income.

  2. Since 1992, NM teachers’ salaries have grown by 3% and that is growth in “real terms”, inflation adjusted. For a period of 25 years and compared to 44% growth in “per student spending”, that is not only shameful but embarrassing. Surely the private sector can and would do a better job for teachers.

  3. Responding to Ms. Richardson, in most countries in western Europe, the public education dollar is deemed to belong to the student and follows the student to public OR private school. That creates instant competition (a good thing) for the student tuition dollar. The U.S. Supreme Court has specifically authorized the use of public funds for private schools as long as certain guidelines are followed.
    A well run school would hire the best teachers it could find and pay them top dollar to retain them. To find the money, one would take an axe swollen administrative staffs. This procedure is most definitely NOT followed in N.M.

    As to why N.M. teachers have accepted such paltry wage increases the words that come to mind are sheeple and Ellen Bernstein. From a classic free market economics point of view, it means that teachers lack bargaining power, probably because there are so many of them, thereby restraining wage growth.

    1. I would just add that the unions’ incentive is to have as many people in their union paying dues as possible (and exerting political influence). Pay is important but actually secondary. That’s why class size is such a big deal for the unions, but teacher quality is a mere side-issue.

      1. Teachers cannot claim to be professionals if they prefer to be paid like production workers. Because unions reject the performance-based compensation professionals enjoy, schools are locked into across-the-board pay treatment that favors low-performing teachers and disadvantages the best performers. We need to shift more education dollars from administrators to teachers, but we won’t see an improvement in quality unless schools can compete for the best teachers with merit pay.

  4. Would someone explain how in New Mexico 1/3 of teachers are substandard, while 2/3 of students fit that category?
    Are others as disturbed as I by comments by state Rep Bill McCamley regarding education? Or Sen Soules?

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