Education Spending and Voting

In today’s world, social media and cable provide around the clock “information.” But this doesn’t mean that Americans are more educated. It simply means that there’s more information–factual or otherwise–available to them anytime, night or day. But what we do with that information varies depending on the education level of the people receiving it. In many European countries, education tends to be a national priority funded by the Federal government, not based on local tax base, as is the case in so many counties throughout the US. For example, schools in France receive funding for outstanding school meals regardless of whether they’re located wealthy or poor parts of the country.

“We will never have the elite, smart people on our side.” ~ Rick Santorum

In the United States, however, school spending varies greatly depending on the state. New York, for example, spends more per student than any other state–about $20,000–whereas Idaho and Utah spend about 66% less. But ultimately, what is the result of these expenditures? The implications of education spending are far-reaching and beyond the scope of this piece, but suffice to say, education spending by state, per pupil raises some interesting questions when it comes to the choices states make for president.  The following, based on data provided by the Census and Government Executive outlines the per-pupil spending by state, and how those states voted in general elections for president. For example,
The amount school districts spend is more a function of the money available than the actual costs of educating students, says Marguerite Roza, director of the Edunomics lab at Georgetown University. School districts will always spend just about all the money they’re allocated. Schools in areas more reliant on state funding than on local property taxes generally have fewer total dollars available to them, but there’s more equity across their districts. The largest spending spikes are found in districts serving regions with high-property values…”

The Less Money Spent on Education, the more Likely a State is to Vote Republican

The data show that states that are spend less for education tend to vote republican. In 2012, for example, that of the top 25 states that spent the most on education, about 75% voted democratic. On the other hand, of those bottom states that spent the least on education, 68% of states were inclined to vote republican.

Top 25 States on Education

Bottom 25 States on Education

A More Educated Population Means a More Responsive Government(?)

IN 2014 the Journal of Law and Economics reported in a paper entitled  Education, Complaints, and Accountability,” concluded that a more educated population has a more responsive government. Why? Because they complain more. As the Atlantic reported:

One reason why government improves is that citizens complain about public officials who mistreat them: policemen who beat them up, officials who demand bribes, teachers who do not show up…A public official choosing to break rules must trade off the risk of being disciplined, no matter how small for each individual complaint, against the benefits of misconduct. As citizens’ complaints proliferate, the risk of an investigation and disciplinary action rises…As education levels in a country rise, so does the number of complaints when officials misbehave, which raises the expected costs of misconduct and thus encourages better behavior—asking for fewer bribes, avoiding abusing people, showing up to work.

Okay, so, we get a better government from a more educated population. What else?

According to exit polling, the Associated Press, and Edison Research, the GOP leader Donald Trump

…overwhelmingly leads his rivals for support among the less educated, and draws more modest backing from college graduates and those with postgraduate study, according to exit polls conducted for the Associated Press and television networks by Edison Research.

In an analysis of voters by education in states where exit or entrance polling is available, nearly half of those with high school diplomas or less schooling said they supported the billionaire. Just over 40 percent of those with some college study favored him.

Trump’s state-by-state performance wasn’t nearly as strong among those with some college or an associate’s degree.

It’s clear that people are the only real resource a country has. Why then has this country allowed “winners” and “losers” in education, instead of making education a national priority that doesn’t depend on state-by-state or county-by-county tax wealth?

IF the democrats were wise, they’d make this their number one priority. As it is, an ill-informed, uneducated populace is one of the regressive right’s best weapons against good governance and smart policy.


Lucid Nation
About Lucid Nation (18 Articles)
Mare Gouger, the founder of Lucid Nation, has a Master's Degree from GWU, has worked on Capitol Hill for a decade, and has closely followed politics since 1982.

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