In the midst of reading yet another article on how a return good education would be fairly easy (simply return to what we used to do), which is fodder for another meditation, I ran across this chart:
And rather than seeing what the author wanted me to see (which I see, but am not meditating on here), I saw further proof for my thesis that modern public education is not about learning, but about job growth. It is profitable for educators to avoid improvement. If there is always a crisis in education, there is always more money with which to try and solve it. If the simple solutions were to be implemented, and work, then all the current spending on education would be silly.
Even as we decry how poorly we pay our teachers, we watch as the educational industry skyrockets in cost. If we are paying teachers poorly, where is all that money going? The text book industry is doing well, especially now that it can charge the same or more for electronic books while saving all the costs of printed texts. The testing industry is booming. The satellite industries that produce practice tests, test prep, consulting, and the like are doing well. And there are more offices in the admin wing than ever, but teachers are still underpaid. Hmmmm. There seems to be a large rabbit hole somewhere…
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)