The US Census Bureau has released its latest statistics on money spent by each state per student, as well as overall education spending. For the calendar year 2012, New York ranks first in per student spending at an average of $19,552 per pupil, while Utah is last at just $6,206 per student, according to an article by Thomas C. Frolich of Wall Street 24/7.
New York excels at paying its teachers, spending $13,582 per student on instruction, a number that is not only double the national average but also No. 1 in the country. That figure is broken down into $8,312 on teacher salary and wages and $4,233 on teacher benefits, something that was a major issue in the recent New York City teachers' union contract negotiations.
Overall, New York was second in actual education spending at $58.8 billion, made possible by the 13% tax burden taken on by its citizens, the highest in the country. According to the bureau report, 85.3% of its population holds a high school diploma – the 15th-highest total in the country.
Roughly 180 degrees away from New York's spending is that of Utah, which spends $6,206 per student and only $2,397 for teacher compensation per pupil, also last int he country. The lack of spending is particularly vexing because Utah's median household income of $57,049 ranks in the top 15 in the country and 91% of its residents 25 or older have a high school diploma.
In an article from 2012, Justin McCandless and Lisa Schnecker of the Salt Lake City Tribune touched on Utah's continual last-place finish in spending per pupil.
According to a separate report released by Rutgers Graduate School of Education and the Education Law Center, Utah ranked first in the country in 2009 when it came to distributing that money fairly.
That means students in high poverty school districts in Utah get more funding than those in wealthier areas, according to the report.
The Rutgers report, however, also gave Utah a grade of F for effort, for the percentage of the state's Gross Domestic Product given to education.
Overall, the top five schools in spending per student in 2012 were:
— New York, $19,522
— Alaska, $17,390
— New Jersey, $17,266
— Connecticut, $16,273
— Vermont, $16,039
Not surprisingly, four of the top five and eight of the top 10 are schools clustered on the East Coast. At No.2 , Alaska is an interesting outlier, in that it has unusually high per capita taxes – nearly $10,000 thanks to its oil and gas production industries. By comparison, the national average in per capita taxes is $2,557.
By contrast, the bottom five schools in spending per student in 2012 were:
— Utah, $6,206
— Idaho, $6,658
— Oklahoma, $7,466
— Arizona $7,558
— Mississippi $8,154
Among the states in the bottom 10, only No. 1 Utah ranked above the national median for household income, implying a direct correlation between the wealth of individual families and the amount spent on education in that state, since taxpayer contributions fund most educational endeavors at least in part.