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Virginia Ranks Towards the Bottom in Education Spending Per Student

Virginia is one of the wealthiest states in America. But, it also ranks toward the bottom of the pack for education spending.

Virginia has one of the highest median household incomes in the country, ranking in the top ten according to Census data. But it also spends so little per pupil in its public schools that it ranks in the bottom ten.

Chad Stewart at the Commonwealth Institute says that has real-world consequences for students across Virginia.

"Low funding especially impacts schools with a high share of students living in poverty," Stewart explains. "Increasing funding can have long-lasting positive impacts on both academic gains and graduation rates."

Rachael Deane at the Legal Aid Justice Center says Virginia's current per pupil spending, which is about $5,000, is nowhere near enough.

"The Fund Our Schools Coalition recommends that we increase state per pupil spending at least about $3,000 per student," says Deane. "Raising that would mean that Virginia was matching the average investment of the other top ten states for median household income."

She says Virginia has been dis-investing in public education for so long, that it's going to take a long time just to catch up from the bottom of the list to anywhere near average.

This report, provided by Virginia Public Radio, was made possible with support from the Virginia Education Association.

Michael Pope is an author and journalist who lives in Old Town Alexandria.