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72% Say Taxpayers Not Getting Their Money’s Worth from Public Schools

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Voters overwhelmingly believe that taxpayers are not getting a good return on what they spend on public education, and just one-in-three voters think spending more will make a difference.

Nationally, the United States spends an average of about $9,000 per student per year. A new Rasmussen Reports national telephone survey finds that only 11% of voters think the taxpayers are getting a good return on that investment. Seventy-two percent (72%) disagree and say taxpayers are not getting their money’s worth. Sixteen percent (16%) are undecided. (To see survey question wording, click here.)

Thirty-four percent (34%) voters believe student performance will improve if more money is spent on funding for schools and educations programs. A plurality (41%) disagrees and thinks that increased spending will not lead to improve student performance. Twenty-five percent (25%) aren’t sure.

The survey also found that voters tend to underestimate how much is spent on education.  Thirty-nine percent (39%) say the average per student expenditure is less than $9,000 per year while only 12% think it’s higher than that. Nine percent (9%) estimate the right amount but a plurality of 40% is not sure. There is a wide range of expenditure on education depending upon the state and region.

Most voters (54%) continue to believe that the government does not spend enough on public education, unchanged from a year ago. But that figure drops to 38% when voters are asked specifically if $9,000 per year is too much, too little or about the right amount to spend per student on education. Twenty-two percent (22%) of voters say, generally speaking, the government spends too much on public education, and that edges up slightly to 24% when voters are given the $9,000 per year figure.

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The survey of 1,000 Likely Voters was conducted on April 25-26, 2011 by Rasmussen Reports. The margin of sampling error is +/- 3 percentage points with a 95% level of confidence. Field work for all Rasmussen Reports surveys is conducted by Pulse Opinion Research, LLC. See methodology.

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