The Great Recession and Public Education
Robert M. Schwab () and
Kathryn L. Wagner ()
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Robert M. Schwab: Department of Economics University of Maryland College Park, MD 20742
Kathryn L. Wagner: Department of Economics College of Business Administration Marquette University Milwaukee, WI 53201
Education Finance and Policy, 2019, vol. 14, issue 2, 298-326
We examine the impact of the Great Recession on public education finance and employment. Five major themes emerge from our work. First, nearly 300,000 school employees lost their jobs. Second, schools that were heavily dependent financially on state governments were particularly vulnerable to the recession. Third, local revenues from the property tax actually increased during the recession, primarily because millage rates rose in response to declining property values. Fourth, inequality in school spending rose sharply during the Great Recession. We argue, however, that we need to be very cautious about this result. School spending inequality has risen steadily since 2000; the trend in inequality we see in the 2008â€“13 period is very similar to the trend we see in the 2000â€“08 period. Fifth, the federal government's efforts to shield education from some of the worst effects of the recession achieved their major goal.
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