The High Cost of Low Education
Yesterday afternoon I saw a letter from one of my parents’ schools(they’re both high school teachers) sitting out on the kitchen table. While sitting there I glanced at the letter to see what it was. Being only a couple short paragraphs it was easy to read and understand.
It stated that the school district spent 80 percent of its budget on salaries and benefits.
My first thought was of mockery. Of course the public schools would spend 80% of their budget on salaries, pensions, and other benefits, that’s what public efforts do, bloat the payroll.
However that thought quickly died when I reflected further. Since education and learning requires people and not machinery as its capital form of production it perhaps makes sense that a school would spend more on payroll since that is its key instrument.
Truly, the key is of course eager minds, but the means to facilitate that is what the school does, or should do. Still I can recall the regularity with which the many dozens of local school districts call for further needed funds and budgets so that they can “acquire new tools for learning”.
Every school in the country will easily state its need for the newest, best, and fanciest tools, gadgets, and formulae for teaching and molding young minds. Why if every pupil doesn’t have an ipad, and imac how will they ever learn
latin History of American Oppression, without them?
The reality is that every public school in America will do whatever it takes to get more funding, spend 80% of that money of salaries and still claim it needs more money to improve how it teaches your children.
Perhaps you’d get more bang for your educational buck if they spent more than 2 out of every 10 dollars on the needed improvements they always claim to desperately need.
As stated above, I think 80% for salaries in a human versus machine -capital intensive job isn’t that bad. The problem, to me, isn’t that they spend only 20% on ‘materials’ but that they claim that isn’t enough. Materials schmaterials. You’re teachers, teach. If you don’t know the material you have no business being up there. If your own mind isn’t strong enough to know the material it surely shouldn’t be responsible for molding young minds.
They fail to realize that the 80% on salaries counts as money spent on materials. You can spend as much as you want building a hightech racecar to match Ferrari and it wont be worth the hair on your toes if you don’t have someone who can drive it.
Spend whatever you can on extra fancy materials, if a teacher is incompetent and/or the students(and parents) don’t care to pay attention the fanciest touchscreen monitor built into the desk isn’t going to teach biology any better.
The reason educational results have declined for decades while spending has grown immensely is but part of the picture. The search for educational alchemy turning brains directly into intelligence through some form of magic is what ails American education.
Gizmos and technology can make a great supplement to education and offer new and more ways of engaging students beyond the classroom. However, without a teacher to guide the student along the path to knowledge fulfillment and parents to ensure the journey is completed honestly and earnestly the gizmos are nothing more than a distraction similar to those found in experiments with lab monkeys.
I’ve come full circle on the matter from yesterday afternoon. 80 percent spending on salaries is not horrible(though the total sum is still objectionable), rather the problem is that results are expected to come from the remaining 20 percent of spending and people have forgotten why the 80% is spent the way it is(and that’s not to be a works project).
Posted on February 18, 2013, in No Hope For America, Problems to Ponder and tagged 80 percent, benefits, budgets, competence, education, guidance, high cost, high school, learning, low education, parents, pensions, salary, school, students, teachers, teaching, technology. Bookmark the permalink. 6 Comments.