This isn't adjusted for inflation, so the decline is even worse. The dotted line is the seven-year pre-recession average projected forward. I'm pretty cynical about these things and knew that spending had declined in 2010, but I had expected it to even out or go up in 2011. Instead, it has declined further.
There's been yearly increases in spending on elementary and secondary education going back decades. We didn't develop some sort of technology that made educating young people cheaper in 2009 - instead, states were hit hard by a housing crash and liquidity issues that come with having to maintain a balanced budget in light of the worst downturn since the Great Depression. This also comes on top of the mass layoffs of teachers, some 200,000 during this recession. Rather than firing teachers while spending more elsewhere, we are just spending less educating our children, period. This is the worst kind of disinvestment, made at the worst possible time.
Even worse, state and local governments are having to spend ever more money on high stakes standardized testing, test preparation, Common Core consultants and a host of other expenditures related to the education reform movement, so that even as education spending has fallen over the last two years, the money that is going to education expenditures outside of the classroom has risen.
Essentially this means more money for Joel Klein and News Corp. more money for Pearson, more money for David Coleman and College Board, more money for the tech companies making the data tracking systems, more money for all the outside consultants and less money for classroom materials, reducing class size or hiring more teachers.
No wonder Klein and the education reformers/hedge fund managers are pushing for busting the unions and reducing teacher compensation and work protections.
If local and state governments are spending less on education, the only way for Joel and Company to suck up more of the money pot is to make sure it doesn't get spent in classrooms or on teachers.