I posted awhile back on my own mental math regarding public expenditures on education. It got a little discussion on Facebook when a friend posted it there. I have recently read Salman Khan’s new book (of Khan Academy fame) on education and he makes a very similar point, but with perhaps more specifics to it. I will post a whole group of posts about this book soon; this is just a teaser. I just don’t understand how so much “investment” can result in so poor a performance. Were it a private business, its doors would be closed.
“At roughly $10,000 per student per year, the average American school is spending $250,000-$300,000 per classroom of twenty-five to thirty students. Where is that money going? Arguably, most of it should be going to teachers; but that isn’t how it works. Teachers’ salaries are a relatively small part of the expenditure. If we generously put a teacher’s salary and benefits at $100,000 per year – teachers in most of the country make far less – and the cost of maintaining a 1,000-square-foot classroom at $30,000 per year (a figure comparable to leasing high-end office space), we still have $120,000-$170,000 for each classroom to be spent on “other stuff.” This other stuff includes things like well-paid administrators, security, guards, and well-manicured football fields – none of which have a direct role in students’ learning.” (p. 120)