That's twice as much as was spent on children in the Prince William County public elementary and secondary schools outside of D.C. ($10,090, below the national average of $10,608). Among school districts with more than 40,000 students, New York's total even farther surpasses what's spent on children in El Paso, Tex. ($8,209), Brevard County, Fla. ($,7801) and the biggest school districts in Utah (all below $6,200).
Per-pupil spending alone doesn't tell us everything about the quality of education in any given school district, although a shortage of money certainly says a lot. Underfunded districts, as The Post's Valerie Strauss wrote this week, inevitably struggle to afford special-education staff, smaller classes, better computers and teacher development, among many other things.
But this latest Census snapshot underscores the reality that a public education may imply vastly different resources depending on where you get it (and what local tax revenues look like). These numbers -- note that they're not adjusted for differences in cost of living -- do not include spending on capital outlays or paying down long-term debt. They do include money spent on teacher salaries, instruction and support services. By state and region, the variation is broad:
In this latest accounting, the nine states in the Northeast all rank among the top 15 states by per-pupil spending. Of the 20 states spending the least, 18 are in either the South or West.
To drill down to the school district-level, these are the per-pupil rates in the highest-spending school systems with more than 40,000 students. Seven of the top 18 are in Maryland:
Families don't generally shop around for education by this metric; knowing that Baltimore spends slightly more than nearby Howard County probably won't lure a parent to move there. But when we think about the consequences of funding public education as we do in America — a system heavily reliant on local revenue that produces wide variation both across the country and within individual states — these numbers make plain the reality that where children live matters for how much we invest in them.