Once again, the U.S. Census Bureau has ranked Idaho next to last in per-pupil spending.
And reacting to this familiar news, Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Luna made a familiar argument to explain the numbers.
One factor working against Idaho is family size, Luna said Tuesday. Because Idaho’s families are larger, school children make up a higher percentage of the population. So, relatively speaking, Idaho taxpayers have to shoulder a heavier burden to bankroll education.
Luna has made this point before. But does it hold up?
To an extent, it does.
The latest Census Bureau report contains a wealth of data, including a breakdown of state populations and school enrollments.
In 2011, elementary and secondary school students made up 16.8 percent of Idaho’s population, above the national average of 15.5 percent.
The family-size argument is even stronger when it comes to Utah — the one and only state Idaho consistently outspends. School children made up 19.4 percent of Utah’s population.
Looking at the top and bottom five in per-pupil spending, though, the percentages are definitely a mixed bag.
- New York. Population: 19,502,000. Enrollment: 2,677,412. Student percentage: 13.7.
- District of Columbia. Population: 619,000. Enrollment: 44,199. Student percentage: 7.1.
- Alaska. Population: 724,000. Enrollment: 131,704. Student percentage: 18.1.
- New Jersey. Population: 8,835,000. Enrollment: 1,399,409. Student percentage: 15.8 percent.
- Vermont. Population: 627,000. Enrollment: 86,982. Student percentage: 13.9.
- Mississippi. Population: 2,977,000. Enrollment: 490,526. Student percentage: 16.5.
- Arizona. Population: 6,467,000. Enrollment: 946,571. Student percentage: 14.6.
- Oklahoma. Population: 3,784,000. Enrollment: 658,163. Student percentage: 17.4.
- Idaho. Population: 1,584,000. Enrollment: 265,713. Student percentage: 16.8.
- Utah. Population: 2,814,000. Enrollment: 545,395. Student percentage: 19.4.