Pay Now, or Pay More Later

Pay Now,or Pay More LaterEducational funding – if you are reading this blog post, I think I can safely assume you don’t need me to tell you how ridiculously low the state of Iowa’s allowable growth for education funding is this year. Why is it so low? Because our governor and legislature wants to save our state money so that they can use it instead to grow Iowa’s economy?

Let’s talk about the economic impact of educational funding and not funding education.

A 20% increase in per-student spending for their 13 years of education (K-12) provides a return of 25% higher earnings and a 20% reduction in the annual incidence of poverty in adulthood! (Source: National Bureau of Economic Research, 2014)

If the state of Pennsylvania had closed achievement gaps that fall along racial and socioeconomic lines ten years ago, their state economy could have grown up to 7% more, equaling $44,000,000,000. (RAND Corporation, July 2015)

How about looking at the lost economic impact of high school drop-outs? There is the loss of tax revenues which are estimated to be between 50 and 100% greater over a lifetime. (National Center for Education Statistics) Children who aren’t reading at grade level by the end of third grade are 4 times more likely to drop out of school (Anne E. Casey Foundation).

Then there is the societal cost: According to the Center for Dropout Prevention, high school drop-outs are 2.5 times more likely to rely on public assistance programs (e.g., welfare, food stamps), adding up to 8 billion dollars per year. Also, there’s the cost to the criminal justice system, also paid for by taxpayers. “Forty-one percent of all prisoners have not completed high school, compared to 18 percent of the general adult population. The annual cost of incarcerating an individual is about $32,000, while the annual cost of a quality public education is about $11,000.” (The Social and Economic Benefits of Public Education, 2011)

According to a 2011 NPR report, the annual cost to taxpayers of high school drop-outs is $320 billion when accounting for lost wages, taxable income, costs of health care payouts, welfare, and incarceration.

If I am elected to the school board, I will work to develop relationships with school board members in other areas of the state, where legislators are not supportive of a higher level of education funding. Since the difference in opinion about how much allowable growth there should be in education spending largely falls along party lines, I will encourage school board members around the state to talk to their legislators in terms that will resonate with their legislator’s party’s values. The economic impact of underfunding education needs to be stressed as this is an area that resonates with legislators of all political parties.