Thursday, January 04, 2007

"Education" Spending

On my previous post on school spending there was a commenter that gave almost verbatim the various talking points in defense of the poor beleaguered schools. Apparently he was upset that I was simply throwing around budget numbers "out of context can bring you to any conclusion you want." He also defended the expenditures by saying how included in that cost ($8,618) was the need to educate the special-ed kids, some of whom, he says, "are provided with full-time aides."
Also many other factors need to be considered when you are trying to tear down public education. Public education is required to provide handicapped students with extra support. Some handicapped students in my child's school are provided with full-time aides. That is one full-time aide per student. Colleges do not provide this support. Obviously that is another cost.

There are a number of factors to consider when criticizing the cost of public education. Merely throwing out numbers out of context can bring you to any conclusion you want. Whatever your feelings are concerning public education or college are fine by me. You are allowed your opinions. But at least put those arguments into the proper context.

Ronald RayGun | 12.30.06 - 10:45 am | #
I did not initially respond to this simply as I didn't have the time and I knew I would need some numbers. Having actually worked at a school district I know very well that there is extra money in the budget for special-ed kids. In fact there is even money on top of that for busing them. So today I have some numbers, albeit a titch older than the #s I was using.

From the NEA website (again, this is a bit older)
Ever since its initial enactment, the federal law has included a commitment to pay 40 percent of the average per student cost for every special education student. The current average per student cost is $7,552 and the average cost per special education student is an additional $9,369 per student, or $16,921. Yet, in 2004, the federal government is providing local school districts with just under 20 percent of its commitment rather than the 40 percent specified by the law, creating a $10.6 billion shortfall for states and local school districts.
So there is an ADDITIONAL $10,000 for each student that can be designated as "special-ed." I say designated as because I have seen some things that make me believe the designation is pushed on several of these students. (Again that was from working at a school district.)

So we are looking at essentially $18,000 for special ed kids and "only" $8,618 for the regular students. And we are STILL pushing children thru the system that cannot read the diplomas they are given at graduation. Still! And it IS happening at a school near you.

I was one of those that thought that such stupidity only happened in other places, maybe the really big cities with the slums and ghettos. Nope. When I was in my 11th grade year I was attending night school and one of the teachers called upon a student to read one of the sections. That student said "no" and let me tell you that teacher wasn't too happy about that. But being the type of person he was he wanted to find out a bit more about that answer and it came out in class that despite the fact he had made it to the 11th grade he did not know how to read. 11th grade! And not one of his teachers had ever tried to work with him on it. This particular teacher (much to his credit as teacher and man) took it upon himself to teach that student to read, including spending time off the clock to do so.

Up to that point the student had received (roughly adjusted for inflation) $86,000 spent on educating him. After over $86,000 he was still not able to do that which is almost necessary in society. It was something that should have been caught by the third grade through the use of rigorous teaching methods but took another $69,000 and one chance question.

In 2006 dollars a 12 year education costs us $103,000 per student, or $216,000 if designated as a special-ed student. Am I wrong in asking for some accountability for such large outlays of money? Am I wrong in pointing out that this isn't the best way? Am I wrong in pointing out that there are better ways? I am going to post soon about some ways the Colorado Legislature is considering. Some of the changes are quite radical and completely unexpected from a Democratic Congress. I already posted some changes that Florida has put into place.