The nation's schools and colleges will spend a record $353 billion in the coming year, more than double the amount of a decade ago, the government said Wednesday in its annual back-to-school report.
Although school enrollments have remained flat nationwide since 1980, the report said, spending for education has continued to rise, easily outpacing inflation. In the 1979-80 school year, the nation spent $166 billion for education.
After taking inflation into account, spending for the nation's elementary and secondary schools has risen 29% since 1980, despite a slight drop in the number of students. Meanwhile, higher education spending has risen even faster, exceeding the inflation rate by 36%.
"Our nation continues to make a tremendous financial investment in education," U.S. Education Secretary Lauro F. Cavazos said in issuing the report, "but the education deficit continues to grow. Too many Americans remain ill-prepared for a changing world."
The Education Department report includes spending and enrollment data for both public and private schools and colleges. The figures cited for the 1989-90 year are projections.
The spending increases over the decade mainly reflect more and better-paid teachers in both schools and colleges, according to the report. This year, elementary and secondary schools will employ 2.7 million teachers, up more than 200,000 since 1980. But they will be teaching 45.6 million students, which is 723,000 fewer than in 1980.