James Harvey is executive director of the National Superintendents Roundtable. See their excellent report “The Iceberg Effect,” which put international comparisons of schools into a broad context.
He commented today, in response to an article claiming that we spend more than other nations and get worse results:
The “we spend more than anyone less for poorer results” argument is specious. We’d really need a forensic examination of finances to get a better fix on this, but American schools carry in their budgets hugely expensive line items for benefits and health insurance, transportation, and athletics that other nations pay for in municipal budgets or through community groups (in the case of athletics). An apples to apples comparison would either eliminate those costs from American school budgets (to get a better fix on true educational expenditures) or calculate, for schools elsewhere, equivalent contributions from outside the school system.