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School Spending

November 18, 1990

David Smollar's report that significantly more money is spent in San Diego schools attended by students from low-income families than on schools serving more affluent students is no news to me. Despite their extra income, the former schools still lag in student achievement.

The evidence that there is little relationship between school spending and school achievement is widespread. I recently obtained a statistical coefficient of correlation between U.S. Department of Education figures on high school graduation rates and the amount of money spent per student by the 50 states. It suggests that there is absolutely no relationship between the amount spent on students and their school achievement across the country.

This fact generally is either ignored or perversely contradicted by the media. For example, Times writer Louis Sahagun's report on juvenile gangs ("Fight Against Gangs Turns to Social solution," Part A, Nov. 11) contends that this problem is the result of "schools that are substandard and overcrowded."

It may be journalistically chic to pass on this misleading assumption, but this attitude helps not at all in our need to deal with the true causes of student underachievement.

PATRICK GROFF

Professor, School of Teacher Education

San Diego State University

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