Archive for November, 2010

Throwing Money at Education

November 23, 2010

Education is not mentioned in the US Constitution or Bill or Rights, yet it is the largest budget item in most states.  Currently the US ranks 18thin the world in secondary education.  Part of our downward trend is because other countries have stepped up their emphasis on education.  South Korea is ranked 1st with a 93% on time graduation rate.  India has more honor students than the US has students.  Chinese students spend twice as much time in class and studying as our students who spend twice as much time watching TV as setting in a classroom.  India and China are producing 5 to 9 times as many engineers as the US.  Washington DC public schools are spending more than $24,000 per student, almost twice as much as private schools.

Homeschool costs are obviously much less but parents must still pay taxes that support public schools.  Homeschoolers are in a minority, but they excel far beyond their numbers.  Dr. Barnaby Marsh was homeschooled in the Alaskan wilderness before graduating summa cum laude from Cornell University and then becoming a Rhodes Scholar.  Learning usually takes place between a teacher and a pupil although many great people were self educated.   Some famous autodidacts include Socrates, Benjamin Franklin, Abraham Lincoln and Thomas Edison.  Mark Twain once said, “I never let my schooling interfere with my education.”

Many see high taxes as a must for education, yet New Hampshire has neither income nor sales taxes and their public schools achieve the 4thhighest scores in the nation.  California has the highest paid classroom teachers and the next to last test scores.  What are the answers to the US education problem?  I don’t know.  Clearly education is not about money, it is about learning.

In Arkansas if you put “Education” in the title of Legislation, no one would dare oppose it?  Would you believe that there is waste in Education?  I have seen massive amounts of free food thrown in the garbage including unopened milk cartons and untouched fruit.

The two largest Southern States, Florida and Georgia, have ten times the population of Arkansas, yet Arkansas has more School Districts than the two states combined.  Florida has 67 while Arkansas has 305.  It does not take much of an imagination to visualize all those Superintendents, Vice-Superintendents, Assistant Superintendents, Secretaries, vehicles, Conferences, Offices, Budgets, Travel, etc.

The lion’s share of the Arkansas Budget goes to Education.  How are we doing?  There have been TV ads touting Arkansas’ 10th place ranking in Education.  Maryland, with one school district per county is ranked first.  But here is the rest of the story–In the same report Arkansas is ranked 41st in ACT scores, 46th in Chance of Success and 34th in K-12 Achievement.  More than half of Arkansas college-bound students take remediation courses.  Factors figured into those rankings include policies, spending, student achievement and student’s chance of success.  The more government control and the more a state spends, the better the score on that report.

Is it time to stop throwing money at Education?  Education is not about money, it is about learning.