Sigh. Look, anybody with half a brain knows you MUST correct for regional differences in the cost-of-living.
Statewide Per Pupil Spending Is The Highest In The Nation At $17,620. According to the National Center for Education Statistics, New Jersey spent an average of $17,620 per pupil for 2008-2009, the latest available data.
But that's only one of the reasons ranking state spending is difficult:
Every year, through many different sources, state politicians and political activists make great waves over which state spends more on public education, and which spends less. Who’s in first place? Who’s in last? Those from differing perspectives have different motives. Politicians and anti-tax, anti-government activists search for their way to find that “our states spends more than everyone else and gets nothing for it,” while others hoping to increase education spending search frantically for low ratings – “We’re in last place and that’s a disgrace!” Of course, not everyone can be in first or last place and it’s pretty damn hard to tweak the numbers to move a state from near the top to near the bottom. Here, I’ll present a few alternative, reasonable rankings – the last two of which, I believe are most reasonable, though for some states still differ significantly.Here are those two graphs - NJ is in green:
So, are we fairly high? Yes. Are we #1? No.
But the question is "why?" And for that, we need to look at what kind of effort New Jersey and other states put in to making school funding fair to both poorer and wealthier students. According to schoolfundingfairness.org, New Jersey is one of the best states in the country both in terms of overall funding AND in terms of distributing that funding equitably.
So: no we're not #1 in education spending. And we're higher in spending mostly because we work hard to spread funding to poorer children.
Which brings us to the next problem with Christie's use of statistics...
(Post coming soon - stay tuned.)