‘Dollars to the Classroom’ — less than meets the eye?

The recent Dollars to the Classroom report from the Indiana Office of Management and Budget brings to mind Mark Twain’s oft-quoted line about “lies, damned lies and statistics.” Not that the report is dishonest – but gleaning truth from its hundreds of pages is no easy task.

Key points, according to Indiana OMB director Ryan Kitchell, include that Indiana schools spent only 57.8 percent of their dollars “in the classroom” in 2008-09, and that this figure “continues to trail the U.S. average by 5 percentage points.”

But calculations of how much is spent in the classroom can vary dramatically, depending on how spending is recorded and categorized. And the comparison of Indiana with the national average isn’t quite the apples-to-apples comparison that Kitchell implies.

Indiana’s Dollars to the Classroom reports grew out of a nationwide push a few years ago, led by the CEO of online sales company Overstock.com and endorsed by columnist George Will and other prominent conservatives Continue reading