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I am looking for ideas from fellow tax payers on how we can fix the problem with funding public education.

As a teacher there is always the burining question of how we can fix public education funding? I am interested to hear what many of you have to say on this subject.

  • May 3 2014: Education doesn't have a funding problem, it has a responsible spending problem. Studies have shown that there's no correlation between improved educational outcomes and increased funding - why? Because most of it gets blown on corrupt administration.

    The only way public education works is to give choice to parents. Right now, schools aren't beholden to their "customers" (parents and students) at all - nothing happens if the school produces ill-educated children. Give parents a voucher credit, let them choose the school their kids go to, problem solved.

    Why are teachers unions so against this concept, because they are the ones benefiting from all the mis-spending on corrupt administration. We simply need to ignore their false narrative and threats about how terrible vouchers are and go for it.
    • May 3 2014: ".. threats about how terrible vouchers are.. "?
    • May 3 2014: As a current teacher I do not hide behind my union. I do see mis-spending of money on yearly basis. I also see more and more government control over what I am told to do but yet under fund my ability to complete the task. I will have to say not schools are doing a terrible job of educating students. We must fix the funding issues so all are considered equal.
      • May 3 2014: Vouchers?
        • May 6 2014: In the USA, there is a controversy over whether or not tax money collected for education ought to be partially returned to the control of individual families in the form of "vouchers". These vouchers could be used to pay or partially pay for education anywhere, at any private or public school that would be willing to admit the pupil. Public school teachers' unions and liberal/left politicians HATE vouchers, since they reduce the stranglehold government has upon the human mind. One thing that leftists cannot tolerate is free thought.
      • May 9 2014: @Tracy,

        The waste you see is, is the budget- government mandate. If you don't use, it you lose it. That is SOP. There are no give backs in government budgets. If you give back you lose it. No one wants to lose so they spend the money left over on what you see as waste. Stock piles of "you name it" lavish "you name it" that is our government in practice. Sorry to be the bearer of bad news.
    • May 3 2014: It's not a corrupt administration, it is a corrupt system.
      Parents should not need a choice, there's only one option all parents would choose, that is a good school.
      The idea of schools competing for pupils is a ridiculous concept. Most teachers enter the profession as a vocation in life, not to become millionaires.
      The problem with education isn't really about funding, it is a philosophical one.
      Do we teach them to become good little capitalist, knowing the price of everything and the value of nothing, or do we give them the tools for thinking, critiquing and developing into the people we ought to be.
      Introducing philosophy into schools could sow the seeds of a better future, it is difficult for those making the important decisions now to envisage anything other than the system we've got.
      • May 4 2014: There is only one option parents would choose, that is a good school--very true. This is why teacher unions and liberal politicians oppose school choice, because they know the government schools would not be chosen for exactly that reason.
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      May 8 2014: sounds like Happy Meal education to me. people expect it to be easy, fun, full of bland same-ness and cheap.
      • May 8 2014: In part that's why we the people don't want to dilute the public school format so that our children learn community values. I intentionally didn't use the word indoctrinate knowing how each side has pointed language for how that takes place. Religion in the classroom certain social study or science theories. etc. It is also the reason why schools should keep sports programs.
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      May 9 2014: Hi Stephen, I don't know what state your are in, but I am in NJ and we actually have a choice program which has some of the great points that you mentioned. Here is the plan:

      If that looks interesting to you, you may want to look further into getting it started in your state. It is working very nicely here.

      I want to mentioned one more little fact about "vouchers". Did you know that when a child commits a crime and goes to juvenile detention or jail, that the budget is charged for that child one lump sum for the year, regardless of how long the child is gone, and it does not matter if they return. In other words, a school district can lose as much as $30,000 of their budget as a result of a student going to jail - because the jail now has to provide their schooling. Now, if that student only is incarcerated for let's say 30 days, and then returns to school, the money does not come back. So now you are paying twice for the same child to be educated. Every State has their own way of dealing with this, but you might want to check on yours, because it is hidden money that can be put back in the budget if you speak up. My district did just that and now we receive credit on a pro/rated basis for these costs.
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    May 2 2014: As a recovering victim US public education, I’m for complete defunding and placing all public education employees on trial for crimes against humanity.

    US public education does nothing but try to brainwash the youth into being democratic voters, AI: teach kids what to think instead of how to think.

    The US and the world need to switch to a local, national and international MOOC system, so every person in the world has an equal educational opportunity.
    • May 3 2014: The politicians know that if they gave everyone a proper education, nobody would be daft enough to vote for them.
    • May 3 2014: Don
      Amusing and finished on target.
      Current school structure and funding is based on providing daycare. While there is a great need for quality daycare; the time has come to recognize that quality education is too important to be left to, animal trainers in a circus. Quality education is not achieved by cracking a whip and having everyone turn to the same page. Quality education is individualized. Isolating each child is not necessary, but the opportunity for individual personal space is. Let's prepare and record the best topic presentations and make them available to all. Put the funding more into these presentations and less into facilities. Forget testing and competition. There's no value in being afraid of school. Let those who understand, share with those who are still trying. Have "teachers" available to assist when needed.
    • May 5 2014: Before we get off claiming public schooling is a glorified daycare system, we should actually look at why we have put the education system under the idea of daycare. Many educational programs now have to lower standards to accommodate the no child left behind mentality. This means we have to force all children to go through the same tedious lessons that many have already learned and mastered. To claim that it's a crime against Humanity is a tad extreme, mainly because the teachers and school workers have minimal to no say on what occurs. It's mainly the board members and politicians that force people to fit the role of the workforce. The elites in the school system aren't concerned about the students, but the money the students are worth to their school system. Parents and teachers do not do enough to fix this issue. We as citizens do not contribute enough to make the change in the educational environment to allow growth in the students. All of the red tape creates the issue, it creates the "brainwashing". If we can get away from the low standards and bureaucracy, we will see the improvement wanted. Once that occurs money wont be an issue any more.
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        May 5 2014: As of 2012 High School Graduation Rates are starting to increasing, so although it is out of date education no child left behind has forced educators to teach all kids and not just the few they want to teach.

        I had average grade and graduated with never reading any of the classic books, only taking math classes below trig, algebra, and geometry, believing science was nothing memorizing the element table and believing Jimmy Carter was going to be great! Currently I know a 3rd grade teacher in one of the best school district in the nation, and every time we meet she complains about she is getting more and more know-it-all students that are she can’t manage. AI: kids smarter than her limited teachings!
        So don’t tell me or the millions of drop-outs that putting teachers of trial for their crimes against us is extreme.

        True the red tape is an issue inflects tons of damage and stagnation, but it is the unions, teachers’ egos, and hatred for capitalism that fuels the democratic brainwashing.

        I’m sure there are many good teachers out there, but they are out numbered.
  • May 2 2014: The problem isn't "public funding", it's how that "public funding" is spent. There is never a shortage of administrators--very well-paid administrators. There is always a shortage of teachers. There is never a shortage of sports palaces--very expensive sports palaces. There is always a shortage of classrooms and laboratories.
    • May 3 2014: While the rest of world changes the US stays the same. Insanity! We educate all kids (George Bush) and our number are compaired to nations who select their students for further education.
      • May 3 2014: You need to seek treatment for your Bush Derangement Syndrome. No sane person can continue to blame him after he's been out of office for over a full presidential term. Eventually, his successor bears responsibility for current conditions.
        • May 9 2014: Bryan: You are overlooking the fact that important polliticies have long lasting effects. Yes, let's take the Bush Derangement. We have created millions more Moslem enemies, and ongoing, endless wars in foreign places, for extremely dubious reasons. To be fair, it is not just Bush. Our rush to imitate the British Empire goes back at least to Teddy Roosevelt, another Republican (I' m not saying the Democrats are any better).
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    May 4 2014: I suggest looking at all the administrative and bureaucratic infrastructure that has been added to the system over the years as the greatest cost and the biggest burden to the delivery of knowledge to the children. Unfortunately we live in an era where the "suits" have some how garnered more status than the ones that actually do the work.
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    May 3 2014: Tracy, I do not know how all states fund education ... In Arizona we do it by seat time. There is a complicated formule to divvies up when student transfers ... go out of district ... and other situations.

    So for Arizona ... the money goes to the place where the Social Security Number is assigned. If 123-45-6789 is going to school in Smith High, AZ then ALL of the money alloted to that student goes there.

    Problem two: Arizona has a large population of illegals that are attending our schools and using our resources and not paying for the services. We have 1,000 legal students so with the ideal 14 per teacher we hire 71 teachers ... but we have 200 illegal students which brings us to 1,200 and the need for 85 teachers. We are short 14 teachers and funding for 200 students. We raise the taxes on the residents not the illegal transients.

    Problem three: Interference by the federal government by mandating studies, programs, and agendas and not funding them is creating a negative spending in the state educational budget. In order to meet all the requirements with a diminishing budget requires the removal of classes and the releasing of teachers.

    Problem four: I think it was Francisco below who said that "2001 - 2002 was the last year that data is available". I cannot think of a school that does not report their information daily to the district and forwarded to the state also daily ... so why is the most current data available 2001 - 2002. There are millions of secretaries / administrators / analyists / financial resource managers crunching this data daily. So why is the data 12 years old before we can see it? I bet I could hire a new computer grad that could write a program that would crunch all the numbers for the whole USA by state or total and I could report those numbers to the secretary of Education or the Governor the next morning.

    Summary: Get the feds out of education .. school is a business run it like one. Out of space. Bob.
    • May 3 2014: Well said! Sounds like Ohio!!!!! Things can run better if the government would stay the hell out of the way. We are own worst enemy.
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        May 7 2014: The government cannot or will not "stay the hell out of the way" because it is the one collecting public education money. The primary difference between public and private schools is that public schools automatically get funding through taxes while private schools have to "earn" their money to pay for all the costs of running a school.
  • May 10 2014: Disussion degrades to same old parameters. Those all are managment issues and we do not know management

    So how about

    scrapping whole system.

    whole tehnology based solution.

    How about parents who do not have time for kids education and raising them should not have babies?
    With Asian kids parents make the difference.
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      May 10 2014: Hi Raj, Although your answer did not address the funding issue, I really loved what you said. I was hoping that someone would finally point out the issue of parents that do not have time to be involved with their kids education. A good education is usually the foundation for achieving the goals that children wish for and the success that they dream of.

      I do realize that parents can have very busy schedules, but once they bring that child into this world, they may need to re-organize and adjust their priorities to be involved with every aspect of learning and discovering. Although teachers play a very imporant role in our childrens developement, is not solely their job to bring them up, and they should not be blamed if the child does not get good grades. It is the job of the parents to explain the importance of learning and the benefits of getting a good education. It is also their job to make the best effort possible to give their child the support, stability and confidence to try their best and strive for good grades.
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    May 9 2014: Hi Tracy,
    Simple answer: halve the military budget.
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    May 9 2014: Tracy, Can you explain more precisely what problem you feel is most important to fix. Or, a little list of which problems need fixing the most. I am asking this because different problems require different action to be taken to affect change. For example, some can be done through the school board, as they have the ability to tweak the budget, while others may need local political cooperation or if the matter is even bigger, you night need to apply to state government for relief. If you tell me what problems your particular school is having, I will send you the link or information on who to contact to get some help.

    The lack of funding is a problem all over. In my district I see teachers having to pay out of their own pocket for school supplies. Over the last ten years, I have seen extra curricular activities such as music and drama be cut from the budget in order to provide for items that will keep the school up to date with technology, such as laptops. On the other hand, there has been a huge savings to the budget by going solar and selling back the overage of energy back to the township for big bucks. Each problem has its own solution, and the best way to get answers is always to go to your public Board of Education meetings which are open to anyone who would like to attend, and join in on the question and answer session. If time does not allow at that meeting, they can make an appointment with you to go over your concerns or communicate with you via e mail if you prefer.

    But Tracy, the first step is to get the facts. Get a copy of your budget. Then see what money is going where and if it is possible to redirect it to where the majority vote believes it needs to go. From there, go vote. I believe that each district has an open vote on the budget, and if it is not approved by those votes, the Board must make changes accordingly, and then re--present their numbers for a re-vote. Good luck, and let me know if you need more info in this.
  • May 5 2014: No, it is extreme. If the kids are advanced place them in advanced classes. When I was going through school it was the insubordinate children that ruined the classroom. The students have no respect and no control. To try to put the burden on the teachers is childish and shortsighted. The teacher have to take salary cuts after salary cuts almost not making enough to support themselves let alone their families. The teachers need their unions to get aid to not being trampled by the elites. The unruly kids burden the teachers to a point that they are unable to do their job, and the ones behind the scenes are hurting them to an even greater extent. The teachers are one of the last people who should be put on trial.
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      May 10 2014: Hi, Mr. Wisby:

      " was the insubordinate children that ruined the classroom...The unruly kids burden the teachers to a point that they are unable to do their job, and the ones behind the scenes are hurting them to an even greater extent."

      Insubordinate, disrespectful, and disruptive children are a menace to both teachers who are dedicated to teaching and students who are serious in learning. There must be a special school for children with severe behavioral problems.
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    May 3 2014: As with most things in history, technology will solve the problem

    Students should learn at their own pace, classroom are not conducive to this.

    Not enough quality teachers.

    Transportation cost to school

    Costs for building and maintaining schools.

    Cost for redundant supervision.

    Cost for irrelevant and costly Fed oversight

    Tech will fix all of this
    • May 4 2014: Perhaps tech is the answer. I'm concerned, though, that relying on tech to teach will falsely blemish the teaching profession even more. In order to find high quality educators you need a society that places high value on the profession. Creating the impression that education can be technologically outsourced places little value on the teaching profession. In addition, I don't think there has to be increased spending in order to make the profession more highly respected (just look at the Finnish system).
    • May 9 2014: Though I am a Tech fan, I'm afraid it won't solve THIS problem, because schooling is a social thing, and requires a civil, collaborative effort to "teach" shared values, which are in short supply, and technology only makes it worse, in some ways . Take Creationism, or Astrology. When I was young, no respectable people would even admit to such craziness, but now...?
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    May 3 2014: In my modest opinion we shall create various of independent from the brainless gigantic systems very small schools.

    These futuristic schools should be organized in creatively different ways - some offering specific programs online involving meaningful working interactions among all students, some schools can function as a small peaceful collaboration of teachers practicing and improving their advanced knowedge while exchanging it with students, some can be developed as sustainable organic gardens as close to earth as possible, or some schools would be designed for those students who are wondering about living/nature in whole - these schools can be built after an ancient forum where little philosophers, scentists or future teachers would be able to express original ideas while learning from one another. Learning from young students is a must practicing for teachers. Schools for students who wish to become great craftsmen and artisans, saving precious old traditions will need different programs. Those futuristic schools shall be for non-profit, supported DIRECTLY by us, public, not by the government based on ts confusing "methods"

    No public funding will ever help - because it will be wasted on pricy tech equipment or school furniture, sports, more terrible food, or teachers' bonuses... moreover, all standard programs are aimed to train students to serve the same brainless systems and mentality that lead us to economic and psychological disasters.

    All students need is a garden, green, quiet and friendly, where they learn to respect themselves and every living form on earth, growing up as unique individuals irreplaceable in our society. Cheers!
    • May 3 2014: to address your first paragraph......I think have such a system but we pay high prices for this system called college. Your second paragraph raises some questions for me. What do you mean by school furniture? I personally have folding tables and large exercise balls in my class for students to use. My computers consist of old refurbished HPs that rarely work. My school doesn't have true sports program. BTW, I played sports in high school and college. Athletics kept me from going to jail in addition to learning how to deal with adversity, people that I didn't like.

      I agree with students needing to respect themselves and respect things in the world and environment. Some of that has to start at home as opposed expecting schools to completely raise our youth.
      • May 9 2014: "I agree with students needing to respect themselves and respect things in the world and environment. Some of that has to start at home as opposed expecting schools to completely raise our youth."
        Unfortunately some kids are dragged up, they then become parents. The idea that we ought to cross our fingers and hope they learn a few essentials, respect for themselves and others etc. when the door closes behind them at home, is wishful thinking.
        We need to look at a more community based approach to raising our children. Schools should have an integral role not to be used merely as a glorified babysitting service.
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    May 2 2014: Ms. Smith, based on your statements and question, you are looking at education from the perspective of a teacher. How about looking at education from different angles - from the point of view of 1) a teacher, 2) a parent, 3) a school administrator such as a principal or superintendent, 4) a political leader, 5) and most especially, a student.

    We are waiting for your comments, reactions, or rebuttals.
    • May 3 2014: Franciso, I invite you to my school and see what I do. In my school I act as a teacher, and administrator (when needed), I have been witness to politics, and I am a parent of two who is being asked to vote for a school issue on Tuesday, and I spend money to be a student so I can keep my teaching license every 5 years. Yet I am subjected to government regualtions that I can't possibly meet. Oh did I mention my building is over 100 years old with bats, rats, mice, flooding in basement (where classrooms are located), no air conditioning, and students who have mental issues due to sexual abuse, physical abuse, substance addictions, and former inmates at JDC. Yet I do this job because I like it and feel I can help make difference.
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        May 14 2014: This sounds like you are attempting to save a sinking ship. What is your burning need to teach?
        Learning is a self directed activity. Public schools, as Ken Robinson so clearly states are based of a series of assumptions about social structure. They were designed to create educated workers.
        That paradigm is shifting. Why attempt to prop up the old system?
        • May 14 2014: What is your buring desire to do what you do? Somewhere you had a person make you an educated worker. This isn't sinking but the captain is clueless. The issue is funding and who we educate.
  • May 2 2014: "we can fix the problem with funding public education" by voting for more redistribution at election time.
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      May 9 2014: Yes yes yes, Rodrigo. Great answer. I wonder how many of the people that complain about the budget actually got off their butt and took the time vote on it. If the budget fails to get passed by the public votes, the board must makes adjustments until it gets approved.
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    May 15 2014: I am an elementary teacher in a public school in Utah right now. I know that there is insufficient funding.Yes, there are things money should not be spent on but districts are becoming much more budget minded than in the past. Personally I would like to see education funded nationally with decisions taken locally on how best to use the money. I would also like to see more private investment. Federal taxes should be used. If we can spend trillions of dollars on defense, we should be able to spend more money federally on our children, the future of this country.I also believe there should be no good and bad schools but all should be given the funds needed to keep class sizes small ( 20 or less), give teachers better pay for the very important job they do, and provide technology and good resources for the core being taught.

    I also believe the system should be modernized and traditional ideas should be done away with, like long summer vacations.

    Sir Ken Robinson stated in one of his talks that the economy would benefit by trillions of dollars over a ten year period IF we lowered the drop out rate by 50%.Thats how we really pay for public education!
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    May 15 2014: Re: "Somewhere you had a person make you an educated worker. "

    You only assume so.

    It's about learning, it's not about teaching, or funding. I am what I am because I learned what I was motivated to not because of a someone. Education in America in general is a religion and teachers are the priest selling a dogma few student today are willing to buy into..
    That's why students fail. They are no longer interested in buying into the system that you did..

    Other countries spent far less per student, (which others here have already pointed out) and get better results. Ken Robinson's talk says we need a revolution in education. not just change, or more funding (which amounts to throwing money at the problem). Mitre's TED Talk demonstrates that children want to learn, even where there are no schools or teachers.

    Your asking the wrong questions. .
  • May 14 2014: Being a previous teacher, I often have wondered if we should provide more choice. Since this is America, we love our freedom of choice. Lets create choices. That means, lets promote a variety of options for people to have when educating their children (or dumping their kids off into the system so they don't have to deal with them for 8 hours...whatever). Some choices could be many of the ideas presented earlier:

    1) home schooling (not always available to those who aren't willing to stay home with their kids)
    2) Public education with a tier system meaning a child can be in different levels of different subjects depending on their ability. For example, Child A might be 11 yrs old an in 6th grade Language Arts, 4th grade math, 3rd grade social studies, and 5th grade science. (Issue here is consistency and child anxiety.)
    3) Complete online studying either at school or home (kind of similar to home schooling)
    4) Private schooling tier
    5) Private schooling traditional
    6) Public schooling traditional

    Any one of these choices are an option and should be provided with multiple funding opportunities to be dictated by the State. Government has to be involved with public services, but only at the State level to provide more tailored oversight by the current populace. Federal oversight with standardized testing should be only informative for research and data collection. Standardized testing in general should be determined at state level with funding to be voted on by the populace. Private funding and "business" like model is an option with private schooling and online schooling.

    Again the key here is freedom of choice, smaller local government control, and the ability for adaptability based on the current need of the represented population.

    As with the problem of our current government and healthcare, nothing gets done b/c there are too many hands in the pot trying to micromanage smaller systems of control that need to relinquished from the Federal government.
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    May 13 2014: I would like to know who teaches the worlds best hackers to do what they do..?

    If these teachers are so smart, why aren't they recording their best lessons to sell a platform like Netflix..?

    Add a message board for interaction... or would that cut-out funding altogether and re target it to daycare..?
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    May 12 2014: It seems comments have drifted a bit from the original question on ideas for funding schools. I do not want to pay more taxes and apparently I am not alone. I do however, have a new idea for funding. My company is developing a new mode of transportation for electric cars. It uses a fixed guideway that controls and powers the electric cars. We have a chance to fix several problems with this idea. The new toll road fixed guideway would relieve traffic congestion, provide safer, faster travel, reduce co2 emissions, and generate new money for education. If this fixed guideway toll road were built in a high traffic corridor say between LA and San Diego, traffic on the 405, I-15 and I-5 could be reduced and travel time for an 80 mile trip would take only 35 minutes and cost only $38.00 for the vehicle not each passenger. If 30% of the current traffic in this corridor were to use the fixed guideway for anywhere from 40 to 80 miles or more, the annual revenue generated would exceed $2.7 billion of which over $500 million annually could go to education. This is just one 125 mile fixed guideway the usage cost is just 48 cents per mile which covers renting the car, the energy used, and the toll. What if a network of these toll roads covered the country? Then billions of new dollars would be generated for education in whatever form it should take. For more information goto
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    May 11 2014: i think that it won't be fixed.

    but i also think that real change has started and it won't be long before the closed-circuit education/workplace relationship will be broken wide open.

    school, as it stands, is limited, simply because it is mired in tradition and bureaucracy - the worst being archaic assessment practice that treats students as if they are all the same and merely a part of a production-line process.

    that is not to say that what is being taught is worthless, simply that it is bound to, and by, assessment practice which severely limits any potential schools could fulfill.

    in the meantime, i would like to see schools and their communities given more autonomy over how funds are spent. this would require schools to have open dialogue with their parent, student and local community regarding where funds should be focused.

    currently, i see the biggest problem in education being the generic, blanket, inflexible approaches taken by ministries and governing bodies. schools need to be released from the accountability-to-funding-bodies and given freer rein to address their own, local, specific community needs.

    really, if it's tax-money, governments simply need to cough up and then shut up.
  • May 10 2014: Charles: We agree on a great deal about our society. But I don't see the elite as clever enough to even want to trash the school system. If they were really that subtle, they would surely have noticed , as hayseed Henry Ford did 100 years ago, that the whole capitalist system is not going to work if your workers cannot afford to buy your product, and elaborate "Debt Peonage" is not going to solve the problem. It is not sustainable.
    It is not totally unfair to call the Quakers "atheistic" , they were persecuted for that, and famously , later on, refused to take a stand on the Divinity of Jesus, believing that it would result in acrimony and conflict., as shown by the other Protestant sects. The Buddhist part has to do with the basic view of Human Nature. Like the Hindus, this concept , in modern scientific terms, is saying that Consciousness is a basic Force Field in nature which we have so far ignored, thanks to Western Thought, with its insistence on the primacy of the "Sovereign Individual", assuming that Groups are not "real" They are both axioms, not provable or demonstrable, but the Cristian-Athestist World view leads to unanswerable paradoxes, whereas the Buddhist one does not. At least so far .
    As for sharing fairly, Henry Ford made his first car all by himself, but the present day CEO depends Butterly on vast armies of hard working , well disciplined workers. To claim that the results of the Industrial Revolution should belong to the elite is like saying that the victory in a war is due to the Generals. Very far from true. But there is more: capitalism has moved from production to a financial profit model, which there is good reason to believe is a fantasy world, and not even productive enough to make up for its obvious damage The present mode of distribution of the profits ,which are socially produced, is unsustainable. Forget about fairness, it is simply unsustainable. And don't think outsourcing will save it, because it is Global.
  • May 10 2014: Pat : not sure what you are saying, but I mean that more or less "normal" people seem not ashamed to publically admit to what I would call extreme belief systems.. Maybe there was just not that much public dispute about it years ago. Which is another way of saying that it wasn't taken seriously, as now.
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    May 10 2014: A few unconventional ways to fix education funding:
    I) Make parents pay: 1) for textbooks and workbooks (Students will take care of their books if their parents paid for them), 2) for repair of school facilities such as toilets and windows damaged by students (Parent will instill respect of public property if they are made responsible for the damage done by their children), 3) for painting the school buildings and cleaning the school grounds (Many parents are expert handymen/handywomen).

    II) Make parents contribute a small amount, like $50 per month. Public colleges and universities have been doing this in the form of subsidized tuition fees.

    III) Solicit more parent participation in teaching, grading papers, and other non-instructional functions. Believe it or not, some parents who are doctors, engineers, accountants, scientists, and holders of advanced degrees are proficient in teaching math, science, and the other subjects. Some parents would be honored to be invited as guest lecturers.

    As mentioned by some contributors, schools don't have funding problem. They have responsible spending problem, parental-involvement problem, and student behavior problem. These problems don't only take a huge chunk of the school budget, they also take a toll on morale of teachers and commitment of school administrators.
  • May 9 2014: In Hawaii, the Dept of Education controls all the public schools in the state. Because of this, it is easier to have students transfer from one school to another. Each school has a basic amount of money and additional money for each student. For example, Kaimuki High School had several years where students requested to transfer. They went to schools with room and would accept them. Note: this would increase the budget for the school. In 2006, the student body had decreased to roughly 700 students. A new principal came in and changed the program. The number of students increased to 900 in 3 years and currently, the number of students has increased to 1100. It still has a long way to go but the scores have gone up and with it more money to do more things.

    I have been thinking of a way to change, not increasing the money, but controlling how we spend it. Similar to the Hawaii example, each school and the district would have a certain amount of money. Each student/family is given a certain amount of money. This money is given to the teacher/teachers that the student is in. The student petitions to be in the class. The money goes to the teacher to use for the class. Let’s use an example, suppose the School District buys a software product and want the teacher to use it. If the teacher used the software, he/she pays a fee for the software. If teacher feels that it does not fit into his/her plan, the teacher does not pay the fee and can not use the software. If there are too students requesting to be in the class, the teacher can select the students to be in the class. The size of the class is decided on by the teacher.

    This probably has holes and needs to be flushed out and probably changed
  • May 9 2014: Stephen H. You're right that the US can well afford to educate our children, but the "corruption" is very ambiguous. It is both political fanaticism (Let the Business Model solve all the problems), and/or the idea of social engineering the school system to produce "Outcomes", which quickly turns into another type of scam.
    To simply answer the question about money, it is very simple : let those who benefit so greatly from our weird "Tax System", i.e. those who have the money, pay in proportion to their Wealth (not their "Income" which so often is "negligible")
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  • May 8 2014: @Tanya C.

    You point to a ratio of $40 an hour from 40 students for one teacher. Which is sort of how funding a teacher and the associated costs are currently modeled.

    What if you paid a teacher double or triple their current wage with benefits to manage a class of 120 students. Patterning a model similar to a doctor's office who may consult the patient but the capture of diagnostics is done by lower paid staffers. So the idea would be classroom administrators be the day to day facilitators hired to manage collecting class room stats. grading homework /tests and entering that into the students dossier, for a lower hourly rate. But the teacher consults one day a week per class and manages the students, actual performance, new learning material, parent outreach, discipline, decisions on tutoring or advanced placement.

    That would lower the cost of each school by 5 fully salaried teachers per grade. You could double the number of class administrators for what would be saved by eliminating that one to one teacher ratio. Also by using lower paid staffers, if their personalities don't fit or they get lazy or have attendance problems you can replace them easier, instead of waiting for the end of a 9 week period. The district can also offer a pay for performance with slight increases over the larger cost of living wage increases required currently for each teacher. So a lower paid staffer doing a great job can be rewarded based on that merit.

    It might also encourage more parents to serve in the class room without the barrier of a classroom being a teachers domain and off limits.
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    May 8 2014: it's a curly one.

    the great problem lies in the fact that education is a political football. politicians will absolutely exploit education any way they can to garner votes.

    when it's not election time, they just try to reduce funding by tying it to accountability.

    unfortunately, most countries lack any kind of vision in government. what we have are career box-tickers.

    i cannot understand why, when public education is funded by tax payers, we have to let idiot career bureaucrats (usually with no experience in the education sector) make those decisions. a stupid, out of date tradition.

    like anything that is publicly funded, there is no urgency, thousands of admin snouts in the trough and nobody listening to parents, students or teachers. crazy.
  • May 7 2014: I generally agree with the other commenters who say that increasing funding to public education will not necessarily increase the quality of education. As for improving the quality of public education, I am reminded of a TED by Sugata Mitra, where he treats learning as an emergent process and education as a self organizing system:

    I would love to see government backed educational system that relies more on current technology (computers and the internet) focuses on developing organic critical thinking and cooperative behavior with an emphasis on enjoying the learning process. If I were to design my ideal education system it would go as follows:

    Start with learning through fun videos like those at Khan Academy and variety of carefully designed, appropriate educational games that are specific to each child's interests - sports games, design games, economics, town management, simulators etc. Games could draw simple scenarios or simple problems from real life, present a series of milestones, provides feedback on each child's strengths and weaknesses, and adjusts the materials accordingly. There can even be group games that kids can play together. Kids can discuss the videos and games and try to help each other learn under teacher's supervision. Teachers can also spend their time focusing on helping the kids grow psychologically/socially or focus on those who are having extreme difficulty with the material. Overall, I think this would create a fun, supervised self-paced learning environment with a focus on collaboration. After children master the basics, it would great to transfer their love of learning from simulated games gradually to more abstract, complex, societal, adult "games" that focus on current community problems, health, technology, economics, etc. More complex information can be taken from websites like Course Era. Maybe then we more teenagers inventing better cancer detection methods.
    • May 7 2014: Your statement Gov backed Edu Sys. hit me with the impression that what we are demanding from "gov" and the expectation from "Gov" is a problem. Why are demanding anything from the "gov?" We are of course talking about our own children. Why aren't we as parents educating our own? Does the solution to what we are demanding and the expectation be that government recognize parent involvement. How do we approach that.? Are we demanding that some subjects be taught in class and others be learned at home? Do homes and parents need to qualify? As a principal once told me, "this is public education."
      • May 7 2014: Hi Dino! Thanks for your response. Alternative funding methods would be great, I would love to see something like community funded/crowd sourced, where perhaps each family could contribute a dollar or whatever per hour. In a group of 40 kids this would yield $40/hr. In this situation, I think it would be enough to fund a single teacher plus some extra. With this extra, teacher's can band together and form some sort of a collection to pay for infrastructure. However, this would be closer to private style of education. Some people are homeless and can't afford a home, let alone their child's education. Regardless of who's to blame. I think children should not suffer for the previous generation's decisions, so I am glad that the government supports public education even though there are definitely serious problems with the system. I think we could reduce infrastructure greatly and possibly costs of administration if the gov switches over to online accredited programs and then take a step back and let people organize. It's important however to mandate that people reach a certain level of education in this system. It's usually covered by the high school diploma requirement or GED.

        In terms of parental involvement, I think it's an incredibly difficult question. I think it is extremely important for parents to be intimately involved in their children's education if not leading it. However, in modern society, it's kind of expected that both parents work. I think it's very difficult for even the well educated and well off to tend to their children. Throw in the socio-economic factors, the culture of poverty along with each parent's varying degree of education and we have a unstandardized system where children might fall in the gaps without any other source of guidance. I think it's good to have government guidance at the very least & proliferation of educational resources for self-learning through media. I would like more fun & lateral learning.
      • May 7 2014: We could kill two birds with one stone and try to get parents more involved in their government and local community.
  • May 5 2014: Make credit points guaranteed against the funds per student. These credit points are assigned initially to each student. A separate non-profit banking system should control this. As and when the student progresses the credit points are transferred to the banking system and the amount is transferred against it back to school from a escrow type account.
    If a student drops out, he is given certain time limit to join back or alternatively it goes into droppers account. These droppers are then helped in the employment sector by transferring the credit points to employment system. This way each citizen has his and her rights and funding will reach them in some or the other way.
    In case of death or migration, credit points are transferred to the Escrow type account for them and may be used as scholarships for others.
    Such system is error free, as the at every stage the system is clean and can be audited anytime.
  • May 4 2014: There are lots of good , smart , hard working people and teachers in the filed of education. Many things an be improved as indicated by many in here.

    If we are still using Typewriters, will it make sense? If are using coal powered locomotives will it make sense.

    Our education system is outdated. We do not need. classrooms except for group projects, learning interpersonal skills in the field.

    It is time to use technology to educate where students innovates, solve problems, learn about things under guidance using vast knowledge available at Internet. We need a laws that for educational institution to learn, copy rights, trademarks are exempted and learning should have free access. This is not a place to detail it.

    My apology for lots of error resulted from using a computer with letter c not entering from keyboard to computer
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      May 8 2014: Raj, I could not help but notice that you are responding to a discussion about education and have more than 20 errors in your response. I also noticed that this trouble with your spelling and grammar has been pointed out to you on at least five other occasions by other people. Perhaps just reading the conversations or getting a little assistance with your response might be an idea. I wish you good luck, but please work on your English, as all of these missing letters and incomplete words can be confusing.
      • May 9 2014: Thanks
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          May 9 2014: Your welcome Raj, and thanks for taking the time to tweak your answer. It is very thoughtful and on point. And by the way, I hope I did not hurt your feelings with my comment. But I realized that if your response was hard to read, it may not get the attention you wish it to get. I also realize that TED does not have a spell check option, so sometimes, I will use my computer or tablet to write my ideas down, then spell and grammar check them, then just copy them over to my TED conversation. Maybe that can help you as I know you are going through a struggle with perfecting your English. Again, I wish you good luck in fixing that letter "c"!
  • May 4 2014: Here's the idea that will solve the public funding issue for education. As most educators are aligned with the Democratic Party and want to expand government assistance and require public support for higher education. And as there isn't any opposition within that party to the ever evolving socialism strain in the party. It should be legal for the taxing authorities to assess a higher tax rate to all persons who belong to the Democrat Party. The option can always be for those tax payers to pay more such as the 1% or .01% Democrat Party supporters to pay up to 50% of their wealth. This will give them the government umbrella they require to make sure their wealth is spread equally among other Democrat Party institutions.
  • May 4 2014: Tracy

    We are currently spending $11,000 per student and we have a failed system of education. When full costs are factored in the cost per pupil is $15,000, which is the highest on the planet and we still have a failed system.
    The question should be, not how to get more money, but how do we get greater quality.

    As some have suggested-----abolish teacher and administrative unions as they serve no purpose, but to fill their own pockets and along with the federal government promote an incompetent and collectivist mentality.-------The only government involved in education should be at the State level as the federal government has no constitutional responsibility or authority in education.------direct community and parental involvement.

    This will not happen however. That it will not happen, one should ask the question; where does our current educational philosophy take us?
    • May 9 2014: Charle H. If I may, what makes you think that doing away with Unions would have a beneficial effect on education? There is certainly no evidence for it. I understand that Voucher schools do not have any particular benefits to education. In fact, you could easily say that education is worse because teachers have so little influence on the big picture. I was a teacher for a few years, but I found it very frustrating, because most of the teaching time went to trying to control bored students who should not have been there, but no one wanted to admit it. Which I see as a reflection of our whole society.
      • May 10 2014: Shawn

        Having some experience with education to include four sons through college level and some teaching my self at the college level, I feel quite comfortable in saying that we do longer have an educational system. It is more akin to an engineering process that is producing Model 't"s in the 21st century. Perhaps, that would be a compliment as the "T" was a very economical and an efficient car.
        In my original Post I listed several things that I felt were wrong with education the unions were just one.
        To your point, As the unions have been involved with education for so long it would be difficult to compare a with or without scenario, but what we do know is that America currently has a third word ranking in the primary skills of reading and math. This was not the case prior to the 1960's when the unions lacked the strength they have today.
        A good teacher is a good teacher, union or not, and is worth a good salary, but that salary must be based on the performance of the teacher, not on a demand of a union, that rewards and protects incompetence and mediocrity. When that is the rule then incompetence and mediocrity rule the day and the class room. My experience, not only with teaching, but with the AFL-CIO at Fords and the auto industry in general, a demand for mediocrity should be the motto for all unions.
        The expectation to perform is no longer center stage. The expectation to acquiesce into a collective mentality spurred by unions and government is however.
        I can appreciate your frustration as a teacher and I would agree with your assessment. Our educational system is a mirror image of our society, our nation and, essentially, the Western World. The question arises to the accidental path or the engineered path of society? You are an educated individual and a teacher; could such a cataclysmic circumstance be simply a miscalculation or unintended outcome?
        • May 10 2014: Charles: thanks for a thoughtful reply. We agree on a lot, and no, I don't think our cataclysmic circumatances are anything so simple that jiggering the education system will solve it.
          As a sort of Quaker-Buddhist, I think our society's basic concepts of human mature and how the Universe , and the Industrial Revolution, works is way off.
          One unintended consequence though is , that in the laudable effort to make our society more "Equal" , we have succeeded in trashing the educational system, and alienated a very large number of citizens. I.e. , vastly overestimating the public's readiness for Minority integration. We should note that the main social costs of this were not borne by those who so enthusiastically brought this about, but rather the lower class people who actually had to llive with the consequences, hence the destruction of FDR Democratic Party.
          But a far more basic mistake is using the Business Model of Social Engineering, focussing on "Results", no matter what the cost. The basic fact is that the benefits of the Industrial R. have NOT been shared fairly , will not be , the process of enriching the few at the expense of the many is not going to stop, and there is no logic to "job creation" in the modern world that is compatible with both civilised life and the business system.
      • May 10 2014: shawn

        Quaker/Buddhist, at some point you will have to explain that to me, although it does have some consistency.
        To your, "One unintended----." Is it possible here that trashing the educational system was intended, and if so, why?
        Minority integration; I don't believe that it was a matter of acceptance. It was more the the methodology of integration. All of a sudden, as I remember, those of European descent ( I hate color designations for humans. It is degrading) were racist, bigoted and guilty of slavery. People of African descent were all good people, ambitious, intelligent and longing for a good education and jobs. They became a protected class, a class of people that the government now embraced as special, deserving of more and more and more at the expense of the rest of society. Less was expected, standards were lowered and Tokens were everywhere. Some were exceeding qualified and excelled, many were not. This created a growth of resentment, which remains today. The tentative results are a dysfunctional society, which created even more division as more and more segments of society were added to the protection list. We were no longer a "melting pot", but a pot boiling over with resentment, incompetence, and those minority leaders who quest for power, not equality, wealth, not equity. If you were to destroy a nation and your task was to do it without firing a shot; would this be one avenue to explore?
        I have no problem with a 'result' orientated program, the question is, what is the required result?
        As you stated your philosophy, mine is one of capitalistic achievement, individual freedom, peppered
        with the spice of Atheistic thinking. So with reference to, "shared fairly" you would need to explain that. In the cause of the Quaker/Buddhism tradition a socialistic slant is probably your perspective. This is not all bad, mercy, empathy and compassion are as needed in our world, as is the air we breathe. But than as part Buddhist you are part Atheist.
    • May 9 2014: " where does our current educational philosophy take us?"
      You are right, the problem of funding in education cannot be worked out till you know what you are teaching.
      So it is a philosophical problem, only then can we look at the costs.
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    May 2 2014: Great question and one that deserves some discussion

    As a parent of 4 children in public schools I have a few thoughts. The classes are generally large, with students of varying interests and abilities. The parental involvement is also very varied.

    The mission of the US Department of Education is well stated and clear (
    “ED's mission is to promote student achievement and preparation for global competitiveness by fostering educational excellence and ensuring equal access.”

    Some parents use school as a baby-sitting service and have no involvement. Unless they are involved and asking questions and showing excitement about school it is difficult to do well. Some students are there to really work. Some come for social reasons. But I digress.

    I think smaller classes (10-15) with more focus might be of benefit – allowing teachers to prepare students to be critical thinkers and life-long learners, not memorizers!
    • May 3 2014: I agree with being a babysitter at times. I have often asked my administration if I can chagre for a babysitting service when a kid sits in my room and refuses do any work?
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        May 4 2014: "I have often asked my administration if I can charge for a babysitting service when a kid sits in my room and refuses do any work?"

        Ms. Smith:

        Let us take a typical fifth grade math class of twenty-five students:
        a) 2 students are at grade level, mastered basic arithmetic skills including long division (3-digit divisors)
        b) 5 students are at one year below grade level, struggling in 2 and 3 digit multiplication and division
        c) 13 students are at two-years below grade level, haven't mastered multiplication tables and 3 and 4-digit subtraction
        d) 5 students are at three or four years below grade level, counting with fingers even when doing basic addition and subtraction such as 8 + 6 or 15 - 7

        1) Assuming the lesson you prepared is on fractions/decimals/per cents: Will you give the same lesson or classwork or homework or test to every student?
        2) Why is there such a wide knowledge and performance gap among the students? Who is responsible for this problem?

        This kind of situation is happening all over the school system for years. This is one of the reasons why some kids "refuse" to do any work. Everybody is paying lip-service and most of the time, teachers and administrators blame students and their parents.

        Assuming you were approached by the Secretary of Education to propose solutions to the knowledge and performance gap among students, what would be your proposals?
    • May 3 2014: Two words: "Sports palace".
      • May 3 2014: not all schools have such a place.
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      May 4 2014: Are your four truly being trained to be memorizers at their schools, David? None of mine were. I think it is a false image of today's schools in many places.
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        May 5 2014: I think there is a lot of emphasis on standardized testing and preparing for it at all costs. It determines a lot of the funding and ranking for school systems. So rather than teach what would be most beneficial it revolves around the "test".

        As far as memorization, it will always play a role.
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          May 5 2014: Are standardized tests in your state about recall and regurgitation of facts? Does your state have "released items" that suggest this?

          In my state, with its very ordinary schools, the standardized tests at the end of various school years in 1-12 have not been about factual recall for a long time.

          It seems odd to me that so many people think focusing on problem solving, critical thinking, and interpretation is a new and even radical idea, that preparing kids for lifelong learning is a really new and little-embraced concept, rather than almost universally held principles within mainstream education.

          I will look for the released items to check. Here is Tennessee Grade 8.
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    May 1 2014: Let's assume public education funding increases by 5% every year for the next ten years, then what? Will the QUALITY of public education improve?

    "Total education funding has increased substantially in recent years at all levels of government, even when accounting for enrollment increases and inflation. By the end of the 2004-05 school year, national K-12 education spending will have increased an estimated 105 percent since 1991-92; 58 percent since 1996-97; and 40 percent since 1998-99. On a per-pupil basis and adjusted for inflation, public school funding increased: 24 percent from 1991-92 through 2001-02 (the last year for which such data are available); 19 percent from 1996-97 through 2001-02; and 10 percent from 1998-99 through 2001-02. Importantly, the increase in funds has been linked to accountability for results, ensuring taxpayers get their money's worth."

    "According to a new Council on Foreign Relations report on U.S. Education Reform and National Security, declines in U.S. education performance are jeopardizing U.S. national security, including the country’s ability to compete in a high-skill global marketplace. “Educational failure puts the United States’ future economic prosperity, global position, and physical safety at risk,” warns the Task Force, chaired by Joel I. Klein, former head of New York City public schools, and Condoleezza Rice, former U.S. Secretary of State. The country “will not be able to keep pace—much less lead—globally unless it moves to fix the problems it has allowed to fester for too long,” argues the Task Force, which includes thirty-one prominent education experts, national security authorities, and corporate leaders who reached consensus on a set of contentious issues."