A new study published by the Frontier Centre for Public Policy shows that per-pupil education costs are soaring in Manitoba. Taxpayers shoulder an ever-increasing burden, but there is little evidence that higher spending results in better educational outcomes.
In “The Cost Disease Infects Manitoba Education,” Professor Rod Clifton examines expenditures on education in the province between 2002/03 and 2012/13, showing that while public school enrollment decreased by 3.5%, the number of educators increased by 5.8%. More significantly, the expenditures increased by about 48.5% from slightly over $1.3 billion to more than $1.9 billion, when the Consumer Price Index (CPI) increased by 20.9%. If spending increases had been held to the increase in the CPI, the provincial treasury would have saved $421 million in 2012/13 alone.
Key findings for the ten-year period include:
- In Border Land, enrollment decreased by 2.7%, while the number of educators increased by 11.3%. Per student spending increased by $5,046 or 66.3%.
- In Hanover, the number of students increased by 20.7%, while the number of educators increased by 41.2%. Per student spending increased by $3,693 or 67.8%.
- In Louis Riel, the number of students decreased by 7.9%, while the number of educators decreased by 2.2%, Per student spending increased by $3,930 or 56.8%.
- In Portage la Prairie the number of students decreased by 5.5%, while the number of educators increased by 3.8%. Per student spending increased by $3,061 or 42.6%.
- In Winnipeg, the number of students decreased by 2.3%, while the number of educators increased by 4.2%. Per student spending increased by $3,273 or 41.1%.
Some divisions have increased their expenditures per student by four times the increase in the CPI while others have increased their expenditures by twice the CPI. Moreover, there is little evidence that increasing the costs of education results in better learning outcomes for students.
The Frontier Centre for Public Policy has proposed increasing competition among public and private schools to reduce costs and improve learning outcomes. “The most effective way to increase competition is to tie the funding of schools directly to the demand by using vouchers.
These vouchers would allow parents to send their children to any public or private school of their choice,” said Clifton.
Parent–controlled funding would force both public and private schools to concentrate on objective, measurable, outputs, notably standardized measures of academic achievement. Students would be tested and the results would be published so that excellent schools attracted more students while low-performing schools withered and closed. These manageable changes could save considerable money and make schools more responsive to the needs of students, parents, and taxpayers. Professor Clifton says that curing the cost disease is the only real option for sustaining a viable educational system.
You can view the entire study here: http://archive.fcpp.org/posts/the-cost-disease-infects-manitoba-education