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Next Time Someone Bemoans the Education Budget, Consider Showing Them This


"The United States ranked 31st in math literacy..."

In this photo taken Wednesday, Feb. 6, 2013, Joel McCain, left, reacts to winning a letter bingo game with a "W" as Christopher Larry, Jr., looks on in their kindergarten classroom at Campbell Hill Elementary in Renton, Wash. Washington s new WaKIDS program, which stands for Washington kindergarten inventory of developing skills, is designed to help kindergarten teachers better understand the strengths and weaknesses of their incoming students. Every school that offers free all-day kindergarten to its students now holds individual parent-teacher meetings before school starts, as well as taking a more formal assessment of each child s abilities during the first six weeks of school. Credit: AP

WASHINGTON (TheBlaze/AP) -- There are often cries to increase education funding in the United States, complete with warnings on how terrible the lives of the children will be if taxpayers don't turn over more of their income.

But an international survey released Tuesday revealed that the United States already spends far more than any other developed nation on its students' education each year, though U.S. students trail far behind their international rivals on standardized tests.

The Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development - which groups the world's most developed countries - wrote in its annual education report  that the United States spent more than $11,000 per elementary student in 2010 and more than $12,000 per high school student. When researchers factored in the cost for programs after high school education such as college or vocational training, the United States spent $15,171 on each young person in the system - more than any other nation covered in the report.

(Photo: Shutterstock)

Switzerland came closest, spending a total of $14,922 per student, while Mexico averaged $2,993 in 2010. The average OECD nation spent $9,313 per young person.

The study also found that as a share of its economy, the United States spends more than the average developed country. In 2010, the United States spent 7.3 percent of its gross domestic product on education, compared with the 6.3 percent average of other countries in that organization of the world's most developed countries. Denmark topped the list on that measure with 8 percent of its gross domestic product going toward education.

Brand-new and experienced teachers alike in the United States were also shown to out-earn most of their counterparts around the globe.

But as we've seen, spending does not guarantee students' success. The United States routinely trails its rival countries in performances on international exams despite being among the heaviest spenders on education.

U.S. fourth-graders are 11th in the world in math in the Trends in International Mathematics and Science Study, a separate measure of nations against each other. U.S. eighth-graders ranked ninth in math, according to those 2011 results.

The Program for International Student Assessment measurement found the United States ranked 31st in math literacy among 15-year-old students and below the international average. The same 2009 tests found the United States ranked 23rd in science among the same students, but posting an average score.

And while the United States taxpayer foots an enormous bill for education spending, the OECD report found that parents supplement the total education spending by about 25 cents on every dollar, and private sources another ten cents on the dollar.

Bottom line: The United States is spending more money on education than any other developed nation, yet our students rank far lower than their international peers when tested on actual knowledge acquired.  Why?  And what can be done to change things?



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