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Reprinted with permission from National Education Association

NEA Releases Update to "Rankings and Estimates" Report

Washington, D.C. (Nov. 30, 2004) -- Schools have received modest funding increases, but at levels far below what is needed to make the dramatic improvements called for in the "No Child Left Behind Act," said the National Education Association (NEA) today.

The NEA's latest update of "Rankings and Estimates" -- a state-by-state comparison of key education indicators -- reveals that current per-pupil spending for education would increase by 3.6 percent, from the 2002-03 school year through 2003-04. The update (PDF file, 187 KB, 8 pages) is available online.

Average current per-pupil spending was $7,920 for the 2002-03 operation of local public systems. That figure does not include the backlog of construction, repair and technology upgrades that schools desperately need.

Meanwhile, teacher salaries grew more slowly than the economy, with an expected increase of 2.0 percent from 2002-03 to 2003-04. The rate of inflation from 2002-03 through 2003-04 was 2.3 percent.

"We are still asking America 's public schools to do much more with less," said NEA President Reg Weaver. "We all can make a difference by insisting that every school has the resources needed to help its students and the flexibility to use those resources in the most effective way.

"Many cash-strapped states have made sacrifices to maintain school funding levels, but they are constantly hit with the reality that it still costs more to do the job right," Weaver said.

Joined by a growing chorus of voices from the halls of Congress to the kitchen table, NEA member-educators are making the case for investing school funds in what really works to improve education -- smaller classes, teacher training, greater parental involvement, early childhood education, safe classrooms, and up-to-date textbooks and technology.

"To date, it would appear that more of education's scarce resources are being spent on what children need least-growing bureaucracy, paperwork and standardized testing," Weaver said.

Among the facts in the update of "Rankings and Estimates" (through August 2004):

  • The average salary of a U.S. public school teacher for 2002-03 was $45,810, compared with a projected average of $46,726 for 2003-04.
  • In 2002-03, the highest-ranking states in teacher pay were California, Connecticut, and New Jersey; for 2003-04, California, Connecticut and the District of Columbia were estimated to be the highest-ranking states in teacher pay.
  • In 2002-03, the lowest-ranking states in teacher pay were South Dakota, North Dakota and Mississippi; for 2003-04, South Dakota, Oklahoma and Alabama were estimated to be the lowest-ranking states in teacher pay.
  • Public school enrollment for 2002-03 was 47.7 million students, compared with a projected 48.1 million for 2003-04.
  • The biggest leaps in student enrollment were estimated for Nevada, South Carolina and Arizona.The largest decreases in student enrollment were estimated for the District of Columbia, North Dakota, Wyoming and Vermont.

Using information provided by state education agencies and analyzed by NEA researchers, "Rankings and Estimates" has presented selected education statistics since the 1960s. The previous full report (PDF file, 1 MB, 129 pages) is available on the NEA Web site.

Note: PDF files require free Adobe Acrobat Reader to view.