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VERIFY: Viral Post on Education Funding and Prison

VERIFY: Viral Post on Education Funding and Prison
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As teachers continued to protest across the county for better pay, social media did what social media does best. A picture went viral, showing a woman holding a sign reading ‘things that make you say hmm.’

The poster board the woman holds show four states and their apparent ranking in state education funding and incarceration rates. We decided to check to see if these rates were correct.

The post says Massachusetts ranks 1st in state education funding but 49th in imprisonment. Next, it claims New Jersey is 2nd in education funding and 42nd in imprisonment. The post jumps to Oklahoma, supposedly ranking 49th in education funding and 2nd in imprisonment. Finally, the post claims Louisiana ranks 50th in education funding and 1st in imprisonment.

We don’t know where exactly the information on the poster board came from, as there’s no sources cited. But, to verify the education funding part, we checked two different education reports. To verify the imprisonment portion, we looked at a Bureau of Justice Statistic Report.


A 2016 Bureau of Justice Statistics Report showed Louisiana is indeed 1st in incarceration rates. Oklahoma is number 2, with Massachusetts ranked 49 and New Jersey ranked 42. So, the imprisonment portion of the poster board post in true.

2016 BJS Report


For the sake of comparison, we looked at a report from the same year as the Bureau of Justice Statistics Reports.

According to a 2016/2017 WalletHub report, Massachusetts ranked 1st in the country and Louisiana ranked 51st (District of Columbia is included.) Not in funding alone as the original post claimed, but in overall public education systems. This means the report took into consideration several factors to make the ranking, not just education funding. And, on this same report, Oklahoma is ranked number 18.

2016/2017 WalletHub Report

If we focus solely on public school spending or money spent per pupil, a 2018 report from Education Week shows Vermont is number one. Massachusetts is 11th, New Jersey is 6th, Oklahoma is 43rd and Louisiana is 25th.

USA Today story on 2018 Education Week Report

So this portion of the poster board post is half-true.


Again, we don’t know what sources the original post used, but since we found information proving the imprisonment part of the post is true and the education funding is half-true, we can verify the original post is mostly true.

It’s important to note, even if we used educator’s funding (meaning teacher pay) instead of money spent per student, the post is still only mostly true. According to Bureau of Labor Statistics, New York is 1st in teacher pay, with South Dakota ranked as number 50 (number 51 if you include the District of Columbia.)

2018 Bureau of Justice Statistic Report

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© 2018 WFMY

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