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Austerity has been the biggest impediment to the advancement of education on all levels in the United States, according to the latest data in a report from the American Federation of Teachers.

Expand chart
K-12 data: Census Bureau; Higher ed. data: 2017 SHEF Report, State Higher Education Executive Officers; Note: Inflation adjusted; Cartogram: Andrew Witherspoon/Axios

The state of play: Many states were able to work their way out of the recession due to a stimulus package commissioned by the Obama administration and a $145 billion relief appropriation from congress to states, with school districts receiving $80 billion for relief.

  • That funding ran dry in 2011, the study says, and states never adjusted their tax rates to maintain a steady stream of revenue for their school districts.

The big picture: Per the report, 25 states having spent less on education in 2016 than they did in 2008 when the economy sunk into a recession. There were 41 states that funded higher education institutions less-so in 2016 than they did in 2008.

By the numbers: Education has lost billions in state funding behind tax cuts — particularly in Republican states, according to the study.

  • A decade after the great recession, K-12 schools are still underfunded as a result of $19 billion in state tax cuts.
  • Higher education took a big hit as well, falling behind by $15 billion after the recession.
  • Tuition for two-year degrees in 2017 rose at three times the rate of inflation compared to 2008. Four-year college degrees continued to rise in cost as well.
  • Of the 25 states that have fallen behind in K-12 education funding, 18 are taxing their residents less since the recession.

Teacher pay has also fallen in 38 states since 2010, which has been at the center of the teacher strikes from around the nation.

Expand chart
Data: National Center for Education Statistics, The Council for Community and Economic Research; Note: Estimated average annual salary of teachers in public elementary and secondary schools, adjusted for inflation; Chart: Andrew Witherspoon/Axios

What they're saying: Randi Weingarten, the president of the American Federation of Teachers, said elected officials — many of whom are Republicans — are responsible.

"When legislators choose to prioritize millionaires over children, our country suffers."
— Weingarten

Go deeper

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Illustration: Annelise Capossela/Axios

  1. Health: CDC director defends agency's response to pandemic — CDC warns highly transmissible coronavirus variant could become dominant in U.S. in March.
  2. Politics: Biden readies massive shifts in policy for his first days in office.
  3. Vaccine: Fauci: 100 million doses in 100 days is "absolutely" doable.
  4. Economy: Unemployment filings explode again.
  5. Tech: Kids' screen time sees a big increase.
  6. World: WHO team arrives in China to investigate pandemic origins.
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Navalny and his wife shortly before he was detained. Photo: Kirill Kudryavtsev/AFP via Getty

Russian opposition leader Alexey Navalny was detained upon his return to Moscow on Sunday, which came five months after he was poisoned with the nerve agent Novichok. He returned despite being warned that he would be arrested.

The latest: Navalny was stopped at a customs checkpoint and led away alone by officers. He appeared to hug his wife goodbye, and his spokesman reports that his lawyer was not allowed to accompany him.

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Biden's "overwhelming force" doctrine

President-elect Biden arrives to introduce his science team in Wilmington yesterday. Photo: Kevin Lamarque/Reuters

President-elect Biden has ordered up a shock-and-awe campaign for his first days in office to signal, as dramatically as possible, the radical shift coming to America and global affairs, his advisers tell us. 

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