Richard Davis is absolutely right that Utah spends the least of any state in the country on K-12 education, per child ("Republicans keep starving Utah public education," March 20). While dozens of other proponents of increasing education spending make this claim about their states, it's actually and exclusively true in Utah.
But just spending less money does not automatically mean you're getting lower quality. If you buy a can of Coke or a heart surgery at half the price someone else pays, it's usually still a can of Coke and quality heart surgery. People and governments waste money regularly. That's why it's important to compare Utah not just by money spent but also by results it gets out of students. On that measure, Utah is doing incredibly well: Its students rank right next to states that spend twice as much such as Ohio, and above states that spend more (such as New York) on nationwide NAEP tests.
Research has consistently shown that increasing education spending does not increase education quality. This is because, as recent Harvard study author Paul Peterson noted, when school districts get more money they are not likely to spend it on what is most likely to increase student learning.
Education research fellow at Heartland Institute, Chicago, Ill.
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