News Bite

Spending on public school in America now exceeds defense budget

In 2021, education spending eclipsed defense spending by $2B

The United States now spends more on public education than any other government service. It has superseded national entitlements and national defense spending, according to James Hohman, director of fiscal policy at the Mackinac Center for Public Policy.

The federal government spent $754 billion on national defense in 2021, according to the Office of Management and Budget. The same year, state and local governments spent $756 billion on elementary and secondary education, per data from the U.S. Census Bureau.

The United States spent an average of $15,500 per full-time pupil on elementary and secondary education in 2019, according to the National Center for Education Statistics. This is 38% higher than the $11,300 spent in other wealthy countries that belong to the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development.

U.S. students placed 22nd globally on a widely cited test called the Programme for International Student Assessment, as reported by the University of Kansas in 2019. The test assesses 600,000 students from various participating countries in science, math and reading.

Students in the U.S. earned an average score of 1,485, slightly higher than the global average of 1,465.

Michigan Capitol Confidential is the news source produced by the Mackinac Center for Public Policy. Michigan Capitol Confidential reports with a free-market news perspective.