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Robert Winner

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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?

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  • Jan 12 2013: This is an incorrect statement. As the United States does turn out quality students from public, charter, and private schools. The assumption is that schools are "failing". But what is a quality student? Is it one who attend college? Earns a 4 year degree? Masters? Doctorate? Contributes to society? Earns a wage? I do not have a baseline for what a "quality" student is.

    If we would like to compare ourselves to countries around the world, we could look at South Korea and Japan. Two high performing countries. Both have high teenage suicide rates. South Korea has been written up as sending students to top universities who more often than not drop out in the first two years because it is too hard. Or countries where students compete for top spots. Or countries that make our system of academic testing looking like pop quizzes and the top scoring students move on to top universities.

    The question I would ask is, what do you want the students to look like? Not every student needs to go to college to be quality.
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      Jan 12 2013: Your question is valid .. and not everyone needs to go to college ... the question is more about the bang for the bucks in education and not being able to track the education money.

      In a web search I found K -12 SPENDING PER STUDENT IN THE OECD it contains the spending per child from the ages 6 - 15. Only the Swiss out spend the US at about 95K .. the US at 91,700 .. the Finlanders spend about one third less that the US and are always at the very top in comparative testing whereas the US came in at the bottom third of the bottom third in this years testing in heads up testing.

      It has been stated many times that more money spent on education does not equate to "a good" education.

      Is there a better means of validating the the teaching methods and students other than head to head testing and a check of the cost of educating those same students?

      If these students were a product and we compared the cost to manufacture to the success of the product on the world market ... then the US product would be the second most expensive and one of the worst in head to head tests by independent research ... in that scenero we would close the doors .. bankrupt.

      The only two times I can think of that the US government took a real interest in education are

      1) When the Russians beat the US into space and Ike called for Engineers from the colleges (red face)

      2) When the US came in almost last in the PISA exams last year in educational testing (red face)

      Neither time was it about education ... it was about national pride. The same indicators have been there and ignored until the national ego was brused.

      Schools are a business ... I want transparency in where the money goes and how to reduce the cost and improve the product. As the "owners" that should be of interest to all of us.

      Thanks for the reply. Bob.
      • Jan 12 2013: "In a web search I found K -12 SPENDING PER STUDENT IN THE OECD it contains the spending per child from the ages 6 - 15. Only the Swiss out spend the US at about 95K .. the US at 91,700 .. the Finlanders spend about one third less that the US and are always at the very top in comparative testing whereas the US came in at the bottom third of the bottom third in this years testing in heads up testing."

        The US is pretty unique in that it:

        1) provides free meals to poor students
        2) has school-based sports teams, music bands, etc...
        3) includes the cost of medical insurance of teachers in the education budget (other countries have universal health care)
        4) is the most expensive country to get a teaching education (or any other education)
        5) has one of the highest costs of living in the OECD

        Take these things into account and you'll see that American K-12 education isn't that bad and the facets that are bad can largely be explained by overall American culture and society (society decides American schools place such an emphasis on athletics, society is responsible for there being ghetto neighborhoods 10x worse than the worst neighborhood in Europe or Canada and society decides to give accreditation and government funds to christian madrassas that teach creationism).

        See, right wing radio and media campaigns by billionaires who could make a lot of money through privatized education have spread this meme that education as it is is way, way too expensive, everyone, even some liberals, keep repeating this.
      • Jan 13 2013: John's comments are valid. We provide more in the US than most other countries in the world do. We are also a country with a philosophy that you can keep going to school. You can fail and continue your education. You can have a disability and be in with the mainstream of the population, or are at least required to be taught and supported.

        We can not compare ourselves to other countries when we have an education system that is hugely litigated and required by law to provide for everything for everyone. Other countries are not under that requirement.

        The special education student alone costs double or more what the regular ed student costs to educate. Some students are simply in the school to be there. They are mentally and physically incapable of learning and will never progress. But, if they are in school they must be taught and cared for based on federal law. That is a huge money drain and skews our numbers up.

        Also, the poverty level of our students is significantly affecting our ability to educate and increasing costs.

        That being said, I agree with you. There should be a significant amount of transparancy in education spending. It would give realistic numbers but also be eye-opening. Right now, most school teachers salaries are public domain. So that is something at least.
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          Jan 13 2013: I do not accept that argument ... PISA Exams are in mat, science, and reading .... all countries testing cover those subjects.

          As for electives. Singapore has field days and soccor teams as well as the arts. They are presented on weekends and before and after core classes.

          With the cuts and the mandates the US schools are priortizing the electives as well and will be eliminating them do to federal and state mandates, requirements, and dwindling financial resources.

          I found that 38% of Europe suffers from mental illiness. I could not find any reference that states the European school system accepts mentally ill students.

          In the US the money for special education come from a different pot. Not counted in the k-12 budget. There are many different TITLE funds.

          I find the argument that poor kids are dumb and cannot be educated insulting.

          We do, however, agree on the subject of the conversation transparency in the funding and tracking of education money.
        • Jan 15 2013: "As for electives. Singapore has field days and soccor teams as well as the arts. They are presented on weekends and before and after core classes."

          Yes, but Singapore is an exception (Finland has a 5 day school week and no school sports teams or free meals), and in fact it's entirely possible their K12 system isn't that special and that their high scores are the result of living in an affluent, low crime area where parents pay fortunes for private tutors.

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