“A 1957 law intended to improve academic opportunity and reduce spending by consolidating Maine schools instead resulted in an increase in the cost of education”, a University of Maine professor said Friday. “By 1980, more than 20 years after passage of the Sinclair Act, both the number of administrators and the average per pupil expenditures had increased, even accounting for inflation”, said Gordon Donaldson, professor of education.
“The Sinclair Act may have worked in some ways, but we don’t know what those are,” Donaldson told the Small Maine High School Coalition which met on the UM campus. “We do know it raised costs and reduced community and parental involvement.”
“And there’s no evidence it increased quality.”
Citing statistics that he said haven’t been issued before, Donaldson pointed out that between 1940 and 1960, the average per pupil cost rose almost 90 percent, from $934 to $1,767, adjusted for inflation.
By 1980, however, a span of 20 years, per pupil spending increased to $3,908, or more than doubled.
The statistics were compiled by graduate students he taught as part of a history of education class, the professor said in an interview after his presentation.
“There’s no way of telling what education costs would have looked like without the law”, Donaldson acknowledged, “But we can say that the rate of expenditures per pupil increased a lot faster than it had been.”
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