Albany, NY — Plans to hike state school aid to record levels would come as school enrollment is falling, and despite past aid hikes having failed to translate into improved student outcomes, Empire Center researchers said today in written testimony to the Joint Legislative Committee on Elementary & Secondary Education.

Examining Governor Kathy Hochul’s proposal to hike state aid for elementary and secondary education by 10 percent to more than $34 billion during the upcoming school year, Empire Center fellow Ken Girardin and education policy analyst Emily D’Vertola explained:

  • School aid has grown at nearly twice the rate of inflation over the past 30 years. Hochul’s proposed aid level is nearly double what New York spent, adjusted for inflation, under Mario Cuomo’s last budget, adopted in 1994 ($19.4B (2022$)).
  • New York’s per-pupil spending topped $25,000 in the most recent federal spending data, 89 percent above the national average. New York spent 36 percent more per student than Massachusetts, which spent less than $19,000.
  • The record-setting school aid levels are going toward fewer students, as public school enrollment in New York has fallen 8 percent since 2012.
  • No more than half of students in grades 3 through 8 achieved proficiency in reading or in math on annual assessments since 2012.
  • The National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP), also known as the Nation’s Report Card, has not detected a “significant increase” in student achievement across biennial testing periods since 2007 for Grade 8 or since 2013 for Grade 4.

“New York school spending is held to a different standard than virtually everything else in our economy,” said Empire Center CEO Tim Hoefer. “When an investment portfolio gets a poor return for several years, people change the way they’re investing. But when it comes to school aid, lawmakers continue investing more without getting, or even asking for, better outcomes.”

Girardin and D’Vertola explained that Governor Hochul’s proposal to allow more public charter schools in New York City will contribute to closing these achievement gaps and allow the state to get more bang for its education buck. They suggested lawmakers go further by eliminating the arbitrary cap on the number of charter schools and look for ways to expand school choice to more New York families.

The full testimony can be read here.

The Empire Center, based in Albany, is an independent, not-for-profit, non-partisan think tank dedicated to promoting policies that can make New York a better place to live, work and raise a family.

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