TED Conversations

Robert Winner


This conversation is closed.

Why does US education cost so much and still lacks a quality student

All of these figures are from the internet and only reflect Arizona.

1,077,831 students ... 51,947 teachers ... and spend $7,931 per child .... average pay is $44,642 for 180 days per year = $41 per hour ... budget request $42,339,949

With the info from above I multiplied the # students and cost per child and came up with 8,554,744,647 ... I cannot make any numbers match anywhere.

I knew that the Goldwater Institute looked into this not long ago ... they said there are three sets of books and none agree with the other.

We have $25 million from Race to the Top grant and $125,000 per year (grant) for four years to train teachers in the new Partnership for Assement of Readiness for College and Careers (PARCC). State and county training departments chage $100 per teacher to train them from the district. The district is not funded for this and not reimburssed although there is $26 million available and "earmarked" for training.

As hard as I try and even with help from the local school budget director I cannot make any of the figures "add up"

To me, it has become clear why our students have problems in math ... the federal and state education departments, legislators, unions, and the millions of hanger-on organizations all contribute to the "math madness" of the education system.

As "owners" of the public education system we must become more involved in the funding and operation of the system. This is a billion dollar system that we all gripe about and shake our heads but fail to question or get involved.

How can we "the owners" be better informed, involved, and effect change?


Showing single comment thread. View the full conversation.

  • Jan 6 2013: "1,077,831 students ... 51,947 teachers ... and spend $7,931 per child .... average pay is $44,642 for 180 days per year = $41 per hour ... budget request $42,339,949 "

    Teachers are not paid for 180 days per year (how do you even get to 180 days, do US schools have 15 weeks of vacation these days?), or did you think they correct all homework during class and leave student assessment meetings to robots? Besides, $8000 per student per year is not really abnormally high for a developed country, including educational powerhosues such as Finland and Hong Kong. Also do note that foreign schools don't have elaborate extracurricular programs the way US schools do, I don't think there's a single school in Europe that has its own stadium.

    What I'd like to know is where this sudden "realiziation" that K-12 education is way too expensive, is coming from? It seems to be supported more by right-wing radio than by actual statistics.
    • thumb
      Jan 6 2013: I am glad, John, for you to raise the issue of teacher time. Many people think that teachers' workdays begin when students arrive and end when they leave. This assumption is far from the truth in most cases. Lesson planning, student assessment, meetings with other teachers and staff, trainings, meetings with parents about students, and independent work with students all take place outside of student contact hours.

      Teachers also are required to take courses as a requirement for renewal of their teaching certificates. Many do this in summer.

      Just as an example, my policy when I taught secondary school was that I would reply to emails from students or parents until 8:30 every evening, including weekends.The teacher next door to me gave all her students her cell phone number for similar purpose. I did preparation on weekdays and grading on weekdays and every Saturday and typically half of Sunday.

      I give these only as an example of what we may not realize teachers are doing to try to serve students as best they can.
      • thumb
        Jan 7 2013: I know a lot of teachers. Yes, newer teachers spend time developing lesson plans and putting extra effort into being good teachers. And that lasts for a while. But those who have been teaching for a while are in it for the vacation time. Their lesson plans were created years ago. Their tests (with some absolutely essential exceptions) are designed to make minimum work for themselves.

        Are there exceptions? Probably. I've never met one and as I said, I know a LOT of teachers and retired teachers.
        • thumb
          Jan 7 2013: Curricula, textbooks, classroom resources, and assessment tools change all the time and teacher's plans with them.

          As a longtime teacher and coach of teachers, I have worked with many elbow to elbow over many years and observed many more in action. I cannot think of any, though there are, I am sure, some, who meet your description.

          I have little experience with preK- grade 2 teachers and the most with sixth grade and up, almost entirely in urban public schools.

          I cannot explain your unusual experience- why you have never met a single one who is not lazy. Maybe it is because the teachers who are not lazy are too busy working to get out much, other than during the times they can recharge from burnout. It is a mystery to me.

          Teaching has also become a more difficult job over time, I believe, so those who retired, say twenty years ago, may have had a differennt experience from those still in the classroom in this century.
        • thumb
          Jan 8 2013: @TED Lover
          This is my 29th as a teacher of high school English. Every year, I make new lesson plans and new assessments. I write new lesson plans and new assessments and other assignments every year because I have rooms full of individuals.

          I resent your statements and your implications that teachers are in it for the money via the path of least resistance. We should meet. Then you will know an exception. You should meet my colleagues. Then you will know a whole bunch of exceptions.

Showing single comment thread. View the full conversation.