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.

  • thumb
    Jan 8 2013: One answer is that money comes from several different pots. My district is my county, so the county provides one pot of money and has certain expectations for how it is spent. The state provides some pots of money and has certain expectations and requirements about how they are spent. The federal government provides many very different pots of money and has certain expectations and requirements about how they are spent. It's confusing and probably ineffecient.

    Another answer--a cynical one--is that lawmakers have little incentive to direct funds efficiently and effectively. I can contribute only so much to a political campaign, for example, but a PAC can give much, much more and, therefore, enforce its will easily more than I can. My Congressman, then, will be less responsive to my recommendations about educational spending and accountability than he will to the demands of the PAC.

    Systemic reform and altruistic legislators seem like good but unrealistic answers to getting better value for our educational dollars. To be better informed and involved, go to local school board meetings, communicate your interests often to your elected officials, campaign for people and ideas that will create the educational system you want.

    In spite of everything, I really do believe that an individual can bring about change.
    • thumb
      Jan 8 2013: Alan, We are of the same camp. When on the board I was concerned about "fenced monies". The accountant said that school rules are totally different and would drive a CPA to drink. All politicians say ... when running .. I will make everything transparant .. it never happens.

      Cynical or not I think that the lawnakers, at all levels, are key players in the problems that education is facing. They allocate funds on a math formula and then throw the money at the problem with little or no understanding of the issues and no plan on resolving anything. As you say they need to keep the big donors happy. That would include thousands of union and associated (for profit) educational associations. Federal and state legislatures have taken the place of the local boards and the old PTA. Locals have almost zip input. The power in education is the textbook publishers and the test developers. Your curriculum and syllabus must align or students will bust the tests.

      As new books and revised test come out each year teachers must rewrite lesson plans and syllabus accordingly ... this enforces what your reply was to TED Lover. Additionally this year we will see the new Common Core Curriculum and student test scores as evaluation tools for the teachers evals. The hoops for teachers to jump through have become smaller and higher than ever before. The parents you need to talk to do not make meetings ... citizens rant on teacher for areas they have no control over ... citizens bark and cry but refuse to become involved ... law suits are the major issue for administrators ... do more with less is the rule of the day.

      I am very involved .. serve on committees, posts, and boards. I am very vocal and my Senator and the State Super know my name and face as well as the Chair of the Senate Education Panel.

      Diogenes may have quit looking but I will not take Dylan Thomas' advice and go quietly .... I'm kickin and clawing for better education.

      All the best Bob.
      • thumb
        Jan 9 2013: Robert, this is one of the things I most respect and appreciate in you. You try to understand things and are willing to do the work to get there rather than assuming you have already gotten to the root of things.

        I also appreciate that you do not consider others with scorn because they are differently educated from you.
        • thumb
          Jan 9 2013: Thank you. As long as we try some of our efforts will fail. Life and education have taught me that failure is okay. It is how we face failure ... do we learn and grow or do we quit. Quiting is unacceptable.

          Education is not a goal ... it is a road ... a path .. a adventure. I like the term you use "educated differently". Formal or informal we all have skill sets.

          You add to every conversation. You are appreciated.


Showing single comment thread. View the full conversation.