Thursday, June 17, 2010

Make That Almost $12,000 a Year

Several months ago, I posted about the almost $10,000 a year per kid Americans spend on average to educate kids in the public school system. Today an ex-public school teacher sent me an article entitled "End Them, Don't Mend Them". This is one of the paragraphs talking about cost of our public education system.

According to an annual Gallup poll conducted from 2004 through 2007, Americans think insufficient funding is the top problem with the public schools in their communities. But if throwing money is what’s needed, American school kids are getting smacked in the head with gobs of cash aplenty. That $11,749 is a lot more than the $7,848 private school pre-K through 12 national spending norm. It’s also a lot more than the $7,171 median tuition at four-year public colleges. Plus $11,749 is much less than what’s really being spent.

How can it possibly cost more to educate a high school students than college students? At least we know what it actually costs to get a college education because we have to pay for it or get student loans for it. But as the author of the article points out, districts sometimes pretend to be "poor" by not including things like teacher benefits in their reporting. Some under reporting by as much as 90%.

Schaeffer calculated that Los Angeles, which claims $19,000 per-pupil spending, actually spends $25,000. The New York metropolitan area admits to a per-pupil average of $18,700, but the true cost is about $26,900. The District of Columbia’s per-pupil outlay is claimed to be $17,542. The real number is an astonishing $28,170—155 percent more than the average tuition at the famously pricey private academies of the capital region.

If that doesn't make you want to puke, you must have a stronger stomach than I do. The more sickening thing is this: What do we get for our money?

The average IQ in America is—and this can be proven mathematically—average. Logic therefore dictates that National Assessment of Educational Progress eighth grade “at or above proficient” reading and math levels should average 50. This is true in only one of the 50 states. National averages are 29 and 31 percent. Either logic has nothing to do with public education or that NAEP test is a bear.

For all of that Ivy League School spending, we certainly aren't getting brilliant kids. So I agree with the author's proposal.

Here’s my proposal: Close all the public schools. Send the kids home. Fire the teachers. Sell the buildings. Raze the U.S. Department of Education, leaving not one brick standing upon another and plow the land where it stood with salt.

OK, I might not plow with salt, but I do think we would be better if all education was private or at home. You can find out more about this interesting idea at The Alliance for the Separation of School and State. The author goes on to clarify:

Gather the kids together in groups of 15.4. Sit them down at your house, or the Moose Lodge, or the VFW Hall or—gasp—a church. Multiply 15.4 by $15,000. That’s $231,000. Subtract a few grand for snacks and cleaning your carpet. What remains is a pay and benefit package of a quarter of a million dollars. Average 2008 public school classroom teacher salary: $51,391.

And for all of you asking, "What about socialization?" . . .

“Don’t kids need to experience the full range of human diversity that public schools provide?” No. And if you don’t understand the process by which modern kids become socialized, you seriously need to update your Facebook page. Also, let the Statistical Abstract tell you something about the diverse experience provided by public schools. During the 2005-2006 school year 78 percent of public schools reported “violent incidents,” more than one in six schools reported “serious violent incidents” (robbery, rape, sexual battery, or a fight or attack with a weapon), and 46 percent of schools reported thefts or larcenies. More than 10 percent of high school boys admitted to carrying a weapon to school during the previous 30 days. Among middle schools, 8.6 percent reported daily sexual harassment, 30.5 percent reported daily disrespect shown to teachers, and 43 percent reported daily bullying. Operating on the assumption that adults notice only about a third of what goes on among kids, this means that daily bullying occurs at 129 percent of middle schools. Furthermore 31.5 percent of middle schools and 38.7 percent of high schools reported “undesirable gang activities.” As opposed to the desirable kind.

The author also gives answers to other common questions. I encourage you to read the whole thing.