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Education Experts Rank the States - ID Bottoms Out on Investment in Students

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January 6, 2009

Boise, ID – Idaho continues to be seated at the back of the class when it comes to state investment in students, according to the new National Education Association report, "Rankings of the States 2008 and Estimates of School Statistics 2009." The report shows that the Gem State consistently spends about the same as Mississippi when it comes to each student; that's about $7,000 a year, while the national average is almost $10,000. And with Idaho's budget crisis, state investment is at risk of dropping lower.

Idaho Education Association President Sherri Wood says the legislature has a tough juggling act on its hands, but education investment could play a helpful role in economic recovery.

"Almost any economic report that you read today, you'll find that investing in public school education is an investment in the economy for the state."

Wood says if it comes down to shaving education investments, she wants it done carefully and in a way that doesn't affect students and their learning.

"Take as low a cut as possible to our public schools; make cuts as far away from the students as possible, so that we can help grow the economy."

There is also hope that the federal economic rescue package in the works includes money for states so education, health and other systems don't have to be gutted to make state budgets balance.

State budget cuts so far haven't affected public school budgets because of a stabilization fund. Wood says that pot of money is quickly running out.

Deborah Smith/Deb Courson, Public News Service - ID