US Education: Show Us the Money!
by Bill Walker: The
Antisocial Network on Its Imperial Cruise
the 2009 OECD figures, the US government spends more per pupil than
any nation in the world except Switzerland. The US spent an average
of $149,000 for the K–12 education of every 2009 public high school
graduate. That works out to $11,461 per year or so.
So the solution
is obvious: shut down the schools and invest the money instead.
Just let the kids stay home and study on the Internet. Let’s even
save some money to reduce the deficit, and only invest $11,000 per
year. At 7% return, each child would have a $391,000 IRA when they’re
18. That way, even if they spend the next 50 years surfing or hiking
the Appalachian Trail, they would all retire at 68 with $12,512,000
(assuming the same 7% average yearly return). This solves not only
the education crisis, but the Social Security problem (they wouldn’t
need it) AND the health-budget crisis (how much heart disease could
there be, if everyone spent their time surfing and hiking?)
So we are spending
a really staggering amount of capital on public schools. How’s it
paying off for the lucky recipients?
Not so well.
While at the top rank in funding, the US is not exactly at the top
of educational achievement. In the 2010 PISA
report, US students placed 25th out of the 34 OECD countries
of US students even graduate from high school. If that seems frighteningly
low, it is… West European graduation rates are closer to 90%, and
that doesn’t count the many Europeans that enter industrial apprenticeship
spend more money don’t necessarily get better results. The Washington
DC school district spent $28,170 per pupil in 2009. The graduation
rate was around 72%, even worse than the national average.
So if throwing
in more money doesn’t work, what does? Less money…. As long as it
comes with more freedom. For concrete examples, I’ll use my adopted
state of New Hampshire, home of the New
Hampshire Liberty Alliance.
Like the rest
of the country, New Hampshire doesn’t economize on public education.
From the NH Dept. of Education web
site: "The per pupil amount of all expenditures – operating,
tuition, transportation, equipment, interest, and non-K–12 expenditures
is $13,914.96." (For the 2008–2009 school year, the most recent
published). The 2010–11 figure will be far higher, well over $14,000,
if only because interest expense will skyrocket. Much of the state
operating budget was borrowed in the last two years… fortunately
the legislature which went into debt was largely replaced last November,
in part due to the NHLA.
that private school students get better academic scores. So everyone
assumes that they must be very expensive. That assumption is wrong.
Looking around at how much good private schools actually cost around
The Well School
in Peterborough charges $7,360 for grades 1–4 and $8,800 for grades
5–8. Pine Hill Waldorf School in Wilton is $12,160 for grades 1–8.
Monadnock Waldorf School costs $7800 for all grades. Here’s the
fee schedule for St. Joseph Regional in Keene: "Tuition for
grades K-8 for Catholics is $3,153, and $4,412 for non-Catholics.
There is a 5 percent discount for one-time payment in full, and
a discount for multiple children from a family."
School charges $17,300 for grade 9–12 students… but they offer an
indoor hockey rink, a full size theatre, a Creative Art Center and
access to Gunstock ski resort. When do the students have time for
math with all that skiing and hockey, anyway? But it’s true, if
your private school only spends $8000 for grades K–8, you can splurge
a little on the prom and the ski lodge when you’re a senior.
We NH taxpayers
are paying MORE per pupil than many private schools charge. We have
plenty of money to give our children great educational opportunities.
But we are turning it over to a system with no options for parents
or innovative teachers. A system with no competition or choices
is a system doomed to fail.
is the same everywhere in the nation. We are spending enough money
to give every child a good private education… and if the parents
could get the money, no doubt they would do just that. If those
Washington DC parents ever actually get their hands on that $28,170
per child, their children will quickly be breaking their legs on
the ski resorts too (which will give them plenty of time to study
their AP calculus).
Of course the
moral and practical solution is to leave education to the free market.
Parents would pay for their own children, voluntary charity would
pick up for the children of the unlucky or improvident few. There
would be as many educational options as there are children.
But the debate
today is framed by the Department of Education and the teachers’
unions. They constantly shriek that "education needs more money."
Fine. As a first step, let’s just agree with them. Education does
need more money… and the only way to get more money for actual education
is to give it to the parents, not the bureaucracy. Let the NEA explain
why it’s OK for politicians’ (and NEA members’) children to go to
private schools, but the children of working people have to go to
some of the lowest-quality public schools in the developed world….
And pay more
Walker [send him mail]
is a research technologist. He lives with his wife and four dogs
in Grafton NH, where they are active in the Free State Project.
© 2011 by LewRockwell.com. Permission to reprint in whole or in
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