Are you getting a good return on investment in North Dakota K12 education?

We broke down North Dakota's K12 budget and test score rates for students to see if the spending is worth the result.


(Please note - this transcript was copied from an electronic captioning service. We apologize for any errors, spelling, grammatical, or otherwise.)

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Chris Berg: 100 Dakota access protesters - that was inside the capitol building today. 14 people arrested for disorderly conduct. For the most part the protests were peaceful.

We'll have more on the DAPL situation in our next segment. We begin tonight with' return on your investment in k through 12 education. I'm Chris Berg, thank you for joining us here tonight. Often in our community we talk about people funding education, we say it's all about the kids. If you watch Point of View regularly, you know that I believe our kids are our most valuable resource on the planet. What's more important to me rather than simply throwing money at our kids' education system, is that we're actually serving our kids, doing something that makes a difference in their lives and the lives of others and to the betterment of overall society.

We are making large investments in our kids' education. If we saw these investments were making a dramatic impact on their education, I believe most of us would go out there and say this is a good investment. I bring this up tonight because I want to show you how your investment in our k-12 education system is going to work for you and more importantly, for our kids. I bring this up in the context of measure 2. Many of you will be voting on measure 2 or have. You can watch our debate we had here on pov, go to our website, Here's the rundown. If you were to vote yes on measure 2 you're allowing the legislature to dip into one of our state savings accounts to help shore up any education revenue shortfalls. If you were to vote no on measure 2, you were telling the legislature to live within our means and not have the ability to dip into this particular savings account, I’m not going to try to influence you one way or the other. I just want to share with you important facts so you can go out and decide if you want our legislature to dip into the savings account or not.

Many of you have seen recently North Dakota has scored very well in the national education assessment progress reports. Our science was top five across the nation. Here's the thick thing. The part that was not heavily reported on were the scores on reading and math. Tonight I’m going to show you really the level of your up development that our state has made over the last ten years in k-12 education. This is according to the North Dakota legislative council and how that correlates to our kids' scores in reading math.

First let's look at the growth. You can see here in the 2005 session we spent roughly $636 million on k-12 education. Then in this last circumstances the most recent one, spent over $1. 8 billion on k-12 education. We spent nearly three times more on k-12 education this past session than we did just a decade ago. So seeing that, since we so often hear this from people --

Measure 2 makes sure we can access the funds we need for education for our kids.

How often do we hear that? Education funding is always about the kids and the betterment of the kids. So if that is indeed the case and if we've almost tripled our investment in the k-12 education system, I think some of us would expect a doubling or tripling of our scores for kids. Here's what I want to bring up. According to the most recent scores, these are the math and reading scores and these are all different colored out, we're not going to get into too many specifics here. The point is this, this is for 4th and 8th graders in math and reading. That is flat line.

We've tripled our investment in k-12 education and yet our scores in math and reading are basically the same. In fact, in 8th grade math, you can't tell from the graphic, our scores in 8th grade math have actually gone down in the last decade. I want to bring this up just to overlap the level of spending we've had over the last decade, versus how our scores correlate. That one blue up tick, that's how much we've increased spending, but look at the scores, there is a miniscule movement of those and some of them aren't even going up. I don't know about you, but when I hear that we're going to make an investment in our kids' education and if I can see we're getting a return on our investment, I don't have a problem spending that kind of money.

When I see a graphic like that and aware tripling what we're spending but there is no direct correlation or impact on how our kids are improving math or reading scores, I’ve got a problem with that. I think all of us should have an issue with that. Think about in our state, the challenge with the property tax issue, workforce recruitment issues, budget shortfall taking place right now. This is going to be a tough, tough session. You make up your own mind what you want to do about measure 2.

Even the more important thing to me is we could have a serious, very serious conversation about education in our state. Are we going to continue to fund it at this astronomical level, if you will? But if we're going to do that, we've got to start asking for production, hold our leaders accountable to say, hey, if we're going to give you money, you need to show results. If you're not going to improve our students' education, you shouldn't have that money. You need to figure out a way to invest those resources no our kids to ensure that your kids and my kids are going through our state education here and actually learning what they need to learn. One bright thing is this, we scored higher than the national average. That is a bright thing. But we've also spent a lot more money than other states have per capita.

I want to know your thoughts that with the amount of spending we have in k-12, versus the results that we're producing.

When we come back, did Energy Transfer Partners purposely withhold information about Native American artifacts and should they pay a price if they did so? North Dakota public service commissioner Julie Fedorchak is going to join us from our studio in Bismarck. Head to our website, We'll be right back.

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