New York continues to spend more on schoolkids than any other state, new Census data show, and not because kids here get a better education. They don’t.

On Monday, as Empire Center fiscal expert E.J. McMahon noted, Census numbers pegged New York’s 2016 per-student outlays at $22,366, or nearly twice the $11,762-per-student national average. And the gap, McMahon adds, has only been growing.

Since 2012, New York school spending is up 14 percent, more than twice inflation, topping $61 billion in 2016. The city is an especially big spender: Its $24,109 per kid was more than that of any of the nation’s other 10 biggest cities.

Yet statewide, kids here perform worse than average on the National Assessment for Educational Progress exams (the “gold standard” in testing). In the city, more than half the kids graduate unprepared; in some schools, almost no one can pass state tests.

Why do New Yorkers get so little bang for their school buck? First, because powerful unions drive up pay: “Instructional salaries and benefits,” McMahon says, come to $15,746 per kid, 120 percent above the national average. Those packages make up 70 percent of New York’s per-kid costs.

Unions also make it near-impossible to fire bad teachers, and block key reforms.

Good news: The US Supreme Court is expected soon to ban rules that force public employees to pay “agency fees” to unions they don’t want to be part of. The ruling may help rein in pernicious union power.

Already, school unions are expecting fewer members and less income. The nation’s largest, the National Education Association, predicts a loss of 307,000 members, or more than 10 percent, as Mike Antonucci reported this week at the education website The 74. The union’s also planning a $50 million cut to its two-year budget.

Bad news: Pols in pro-union states, like New York and New Jersey, have moved to protect the unions from the ruling, passing laws to make it harder for members to quit.

How corrupt: The unions aid the pols politically and financially, and the pols, in turn, help them stay strong — so they can drive up costs and shortchange kids.

Labor bosses and pols do well; taxpayers, kids and even union members all suffer.

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The Empire Center is an independent, non-partisan, non-profit think tank located in Albany, New York. Our mission is to make New York a better place to live and work by promoting public policy reforms grounded in free-market principles, personal responsibility, and the ideals of effective and accountable government.

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