Total Government Spending on Schools

I have mixed feelings about local control over education in this country. On the one hand, it leads to resentment about tax money going to those kids in Newark. On the other hand, local control means that people actually have debates about these matters at backyard barbecues. Anything that gets people to fill the halls of town council meetings is a good thing in my book.

Anyway, at one of these barbecues last weekend, someone wanted to know how much of his taxes went toward schools. I could give him percentiles at the federal level and at the local level, but I couldn't remember how much tax money went to schools when you combined all tax revenues. So, I just did a little googling to find a good chart. 


So, education is a nice sized slice of the pie, but there are bigger slices in there. Income security means pensions, welfare, and social security — pensions are huge. Health is medicare and medicaid. So, we spend much, much more for older people than we do for schools.

Here's a good FAQ about funding for K-12 education by the Department of Education.


4 thoughts on “Total Government Spending on Schools

  1. Interesting graph. But,I don’t think it’s fair to count pensions that one gets because of former employment under income security (i.e. a federal judge or someone like that). I think those pensions should be counted as part of the cost of the work the retired person did. That predicates a pension as being dependent on previous work.
    And, I’m guessing that this is spending, not revenue? It’s a fair way to answer the question you were asked, but in fact, because it’s proportional. But, debt is a big part of the “revenue” for the spending.

  2. “I think those pensions should be counted as part of the cost of the work the retired person did.”
    Quite right.

  3. How about a bribe? Or is that a no no? I understand that people need those social skills, but they’re pretty tough to explain, especially when they’re pro forma.
    The people who get excited about answering/asking “Hello, how are you?” and make the person who hears it feel good are fabulous, but we can’t all be them. The rest of us can learn to say the right words so that we don’t offend or hurt. When I was 7, a properly placed bribe would have been a pretty good incentive.

  4. I’m currently in the process of bribing them to play outside more often (which is working wonderfully, I might add). I can’t do social skills bribery right now, unfortunately. If you’ve seen Parenthood (the tv show), btw, you know that the Bravermans have a sticker incentive system for Max.
    Btw, here is how social skills group works. It’s 3 hours long. For the first two hours, the kids work with Dr P while the parents sit in a conference room and chat. Then for the last hour, Dr P talks with us while the kids have snacks (supervised). During our parent chat today, we were talking about The Middle and how Brick repeats the last word of a sentence to himself. Well, one of the parents was blown away. She has seen her son do that, plus *she* used to do it when she was a child. I wondered if she had never told anyone about it because she thought it was so crazy.

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