If Heath Morrison goes to Charlotte, it won’t be because of funding

Geoffrey Lawrence

My colleague and NPRI’s communications director, Victor Joecks, wrote a great post this morning about Washoe County School District Superintendent Heath Morrison’s possible decision to leave for the Charlotte/Mecklenburg school district.

I won’t rehash what Victor said here. However, I have heard a meme beginning to circulate that one of Morrison’s driving motivations might be to go to a district that receives more funding than supposedly depraved Nevadans will afford to their own school districts.

I’ve met and spoken with Dr. Morrison many times, and I don’t think that’s the case for one reason alone: he’s very intelligent–intelligent enough to familiarize himself with the facts.

According to the U.S. Department of Education, North Carolina taxpayers spend $1,332 less per pupil than do Nevada taxpayers for their government-education monopolies. (There’s also a handy chart on page 29 of Solutions 2013 that displays this data. It’s almost like we made it, in part, to clarify misperceptions just like this one!)

And, of course, despite the recent, false political rhetoric about education “cuts” in the Silver State, state per-pupil funding is today at its highest level ever.

So, the Superintendent of the Year isn’t really interested in going to a district that spends more money, he’s interested in going to one that spends less money. Of course, despite being one of the 12 states that spends less per pupil than Nevada, North Carolina schools have far greater student performance. In fact, of the 12 states to spend less per pupil than Nevada, eighth-grade math and reading NAEP scores in all but Mississippi and West Virginia are higher than those found in Nevada. (West Virginia still outscores Nevada on the reading test, but not the math test.) It’s all right there in the 2010 Digest of Education Statistics (and replicated in Solutions 2013).

Perhaps the good doctor just wants to go to a state where real education reform is possible…

Geoffrey Lawrence

Geoffrey Lawrence

Director of Research

Geoffrey Lawrence is director of research at Nevada Policy.

Lawrence has broad experience as a financial executive in the public and private sectors and as a think tank analyst. Lawrence has been Chief Financial Officer of several growth-stage and publicly traded manufacturing companies and managed all financial reporting, internal control, and external compliance efforts with regulatory agencies including the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission.  Lawrence has also served as the senior appointee to the Nevada State Controller’s Office, where he oversaw the state’s external financial reporting, covering nearly $10 billion in annual transactions. During each year of Lawrence’s tenure, the state received the Certificate of Achievement for Excellence in Financial Reporting Award from the Government Finance Officers’ Association.

From 2008 to 2014, Lawrence was director of research and legislative affairs at Nevada Policy and helped the institute develop its platform of ideas to advance and defend a free society.  Lawrence has also written for the Cato Institute and the Heritage Foundation, with particular expertise in state budgets and labor economics.  He was delighted at the opportunity to return to Nevada Policy in 2022 while concurrently serving as research director at the Reason Foundation.

Lawrence holds an M.A. in international economics from American University in Washington, D.C., an M.S. and a B.S. in accounting from Western Governors University, and a B.A. in international relations from the University of North Carolina at Pembroke.  He lives in Las Vegas with his beautiful wife, Jenna, and their two kids, Carson Hayek and Sage Aynne.