FACT CHECK – how do Nova Scotia education funding and teacher student ratios rate nationally?

One of my frequent posters and I have been arguing about “selective use of facts” so I went looking for better facts, facts that are inarguable and impartial.

Facts are actually not hard to come by. Three google searches found this page – Summary Public School Indicators for Canada, the Provinces and Territories, 2001/2002 to 2007/2008 at Statscan.

Statscan uses the full amount spent on P-12 education, including money raised through any other source, municipal or federal.  The latest year Statscan has up is 2007/08, so I am going with that, because it gives a nice benchmark against where the rest of the nation stacks up.

A little Excel ninja action and we have some facts to present. The one liberty I took was to show on two tables what a 22% cut to school board funding from the province looks like. I know that the Minister is now saying 5% a year for three years (or so we have gathered) but until we see some hard facts, a cumulative 16% cut verses a 22% cut is near as no matter the same given the impact it would have on the bottom line.

Note on the 22% cut.  I calculated a 22% cut on the $930 million that was given by DOE to school boards in fiscal 2007/2008, not the full 1.2 billion budget.

Here is a summary of my conclusions, data follows:

  • Nova Scotia maintains the national average in student/educator ratios, forth in the nation overall, at 14 teachers per FTE student, so not super high, unlike what some pundits are saying.
  • Nova Scotia beats the national average in terms of graduation, though the cynic in me wonders about what in business we would call “quality assurance.”  Someone want to email me some national exam statistics (EDIT or other employment on graduation success type stats?)
  • Nova Scotia has the second fastest shrinking P-12 enrolment, after Newfoundland and Labrador.
  • Nova Scotia is one of the smallest provinces, and our P-12 operating expenditures, ranked 4th, are in line with our population.
  • A 22% cut to core operating funding from the province would roll back overall funding $168 million, or to 2001 funding levels.
  • Nova Scotia is ranked 5th over all in terms of overall expenditures per student.  We spend all of six dollars more than the national average.
  • A 22% cut would result in the worst funded P-12 school system in Canada.
Student-educator ratio P-12
2001/2002 2007/2008 % Change
Canada 15.9 14.4 -9%
Prince Edward Island 13.9 11.5 -17%
Newfoundland and Labrador 13.3 12.5 -6%
Quebec 14.5 13.3 -8%
Nova Scotia 16.5 14 -15%
Ontario 16.2 14 -14%
Manitoba 15 14.1 -6%
New Brunswick 16.9 14.2 -16%
Saskatchewan 15.7 15.4 -2%
British Columbia 16.8 16.5 -2%
Alberta 17.72 17.2 -3%
SUMMARY
Nova Scotia maintains the national average in student/educator ratios, forth in the nation overall.
Graduation Rate
2001/2002 2007/2008 % Change
Canada 72.8 71 -2%
Prince Edward Island 81 84.3 4%
Nova Scotia 76.9 81.1 5%
New Brunswick 82.8 80.5 -3%
Newfoundland and Labrador 76.9 76.3 -1%
Saskatchewan 79.3 75.5 -5%
Ontario 75.8 72.7 -4%
British Columbia 73.2 71.03 -3%
Quebec 69 68.8 0%
Alberta 64.3 65.6 2%
Manitoba 63.2 65.1 3%
SUMMARY
Nova Scotia beats the national average in terms of graduation, though the cynic in me wonders about what in business we would call “quality assurance”
Operating expenditures P-12
2001/2002 2007/2008 % Change
Canada 35,707.40 46,259.30 30%
Ontario 14,328.10 18,959.20 32%
Quebec 7,830.10 9,643.70 23%
Alberta 3,901.60 5,457.70 40%
British Columbia 4,184.30 5,389.70 29%
Manitoba 1,403.50 1,795.90 28%
Saskatchewan 1,260.20 1,501.63 19%
Nova Scotia 1,096.80 1,276.90 16%
Nova Scotia AFTER CUT 1,096.80 1,108.00 1%
New Brunswick 732 998.6 36%
Newfoundland and Labrador 571.4 690.7 21%
Prince Edward Island 145.3 185.5 28%
SUMMARY
Nova Scotia is one of the smallest provinces, and our P-12 operating expenditures ranked 4th are in line with our population. A 22% cut to core operating funding from the province would roll back overall funding $168 million, or to 2001 levels.
Full Time Equivalent Enrolments P-12
2001/2002 2007/2008 % Change
Canada 5,035,949 4,791,770 -5%
Ontario 2,046,333 1,976,773 -3%
Quebec 1,088,869 1,022,617 -6%
British Columbia 605,049 556,779 -8%
Alberta 529,758 538,611 2%
Manitoba 182,448 173,392 -5%
Saskatchewan 177,051 165,102 -7%
Nova Scotia 153,450 135,303 -12%
New Brunswick 122,792 110,288 -10%
Newfoundland and Labrador 84,236 69,733 -17%
Prince Edward Island 22,843 20,536 -10%
SUMMARY
Nova Scotia has the second fastest shrinking P-12 enrolment, after Newfoundland and Labrador.
Operating expenditures per student P-12
2001/2002 2007/2008 % Change
Canada 7,091 9,654 36%
Manitoba 7,693 10,358 35%
Alberta 7,365 10,133 38%
Quebec 6,784 9,905 46%
Nova Scotia 6,916 9,680 40%
Ontario 7,002 9,591 37%
British Columbia 7,148 9,437 32%
Newfoundland and Labrador 7,191 9,430 31%
Saskatchewan 7,118 9,095 28%
Prince Edward Island 5,961 9,055 52%
New Brunswick 6,361 9,034 42%
Nova Scotia AFTER 22% CUT 6,916 8,189 18%
SUMMARY
Nova Scotia is ranked 5th over all in terms of overall expenditures per student.  We spend six dollars more than the national average. A 22% cut would result in the worst funded P-12 school system in Canada.
  • Great data Waye. Some things to consider in addition to the above are:

    (1) the urban/rural split… it costs more dollars per student to deliver the same education at rural schools as it does in urban schools; and

    (2) the percentage of funding that makes it to school boards and the percentage that gets spent on students. Larger provinces can use economies of scale (not that they do, but they can) to drive a higher percentage of spending down to student level, rather than soaking it up in an education bureaucracy.

    Either of these may disproportionately and adversely affect NS students, but I don’t have data handy. Either way, it’s clear that NS is probably spending an appropriate amount now – Canada does well in studies like OECD analyses of K-12 education spending and results, but not so well to make one think we’re over-egging the pudding. If NS is at median levels, I think that is some evidence that it’s right-sized right now, before the cuts.

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