Millions of students across the country head back to start the school year today. They're heading back to classrooms that have seen deep budget cuts over the past five years, leaving many school districts with less money than they had before the recession began.
The Center for Budget Policies and Priorities draws up this graph that looks at how school spending has changed over the past five years. In the majority of states, per-student spending is still lower than it was five years ago. Arizona and Alabama have seen the biggest cuts:
A handful of states have been part of a counter-trend, increasing per-student spending. North Dakota stands out in this regard, bumping up spending by 28.2 percent at a time when most other states have cut back. That probably has a lot to do with North Dakota's oil-fueled economic boom; the state has weathered this recession better than most others. Alaska, Wyoming and Montana also "have not suffered the same level of economic problems as other states, and thus they have enacted fewer budget cuts, CBPP's Phil Oliff, Chris Mai and Michael Leachman write. Check out the rest of their report here.