A Quarter-Century of Change

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Then Now
Enrollment 51.3 million 51.7 million
     Public 46.0 million 45.9 million
     Private 5.2 million 5.8 million
Teachers 2.1 million 3.0 million
Average teacher salary
(adjusted for inflation)
$36,500 $37,846
Guidance counselors 49,000 83,000
Principals 91,000 121,000
Public schools 89,372 82,785
School districts 17,995 14,881
Pupils per teacher 22.3 17.4
* * *
Then Now
Total cost per pupil*
(adjusted for inflation)
$4,122 $6,857
Total education spending, K-12
(adjusted for inflation)
$148.6 billion $231.5 billion
Federal education spending
(adjusted for inflation)
$15.9 billion $18.3 billion
Federal share of K-12
8.9% 7%
Transportation spending $5.2 billion $9.4 billion
* * *
Then Now
Children in poverty 15.1% 21%
Children ages 3-5 in preschool 37.5% 61%
Dropouts (ages 16-24) 14.7% 10.5%
Combined SAT scores 937 910
High school graduates
who go to college
53.4% 61.2%


Most "then" figures refer to 1971-72, although some reflect data from 1969-70, 1970-71, or 1972-73. "Now" figures reflect the latest available data, ranging from 1993 to 1996. Unless otherwise noted figures refer to public schools only.

* Cost per pupil in average daily attendance.

SOURCES: U.S Department of Education's National Center for Education Statistics and U.S. Bureau of the Census.

Vol. 16, Issue 02

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