Pretty quickly, it seems. According to a new study, schools spent 38% of their stimulus money in the ’08-’09 school year, 48% this year, and have 14% left over for next year. From a Keynesian perspective, that seems like a pretty decent pace to spend $100 billion. Some states, in fact, managed to spend 100% of their education stimulus money “immediately”. Even better, some of the money that was tied to reforms, like the $4.3 billion Race to the Top program, will probably pay many future dividends as well.
The downside of spending the money so quickly is many states and districts are once again facing a budget crunch, this time without stimulus money to bail them out. If there’s going to be another stimulus bill- oh wait, I’m sorry, that’s “jobs bill”- then it seems like education money tied to reforms could provide good short-term and long-term returns. How about instead of $4.3 billion out of $100 billion conditional on reforms, the next round could be 100% conditional on reforms. What kind of reforms could $3 billion per state buy?