Comments about ‘My view: Will more per-pupil spending help?’

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Published: Thursday, May 9 2013 12:00 a.m. MDT

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Durham, NC

Referring to Charter schools out performing public schools the author says "They get by with much less overhead and have the flexibility to manage the education process without unions and bureaucracy getting in the way."

Funding has little to do with why a chatter schools does well or not. It has everything to do with it having a self selecting student body where you have a far higher level or parental activism. There are no kids at a charter school there who simply landed there because of an address. They had to be overt action for that child to be in that school which indicates high level of parental engagement. Its simple math.

The problem most schools have is the fight between how much does it cost to do the job right versus how much the public is willing to spend - and what they can get for that amount. Its a simple problem. Policy does need to change on how to deal with low performing teachers. But harder questions need to be addressed as well. For example, schools spend far more on pupils who play sports, than study the sciences. Is that the right mission for the schools?

Twin Lights
Louisville, KY

The author is the chief financial officer of a charter school firm but puts the term to "adequately fund" education in quotes and follows it by saying “whatever that means”. If he doesn’t know what that means then there is a problem.

I am unclear on why the teachers union is “a major impediment to improving quality of education” given its relative weakness in Utah.

His subsequent shilling for charter schools is not in and of itself a problem but he has an obvious financial interest here.

As to money being only part of the equation? Of course that is true. But it IS part.

As to “some of the best-funded school systems in the country are the worst performing”. That is simple laziness of analysis. The best funded (most expensive) are often in very urban areas with a host of issues not relevant to most of Utah. Comparisons need to be like to like.

Finally, Utah may be able to remain a lower cost state due to family structure and community and religious supports. But only in a fantasy world does money, and the resources it buys, not matter.

the old switcharoo
mesa, AZ

If you were to count the parental and community time into the comparison you would find that wealthier area have lots of help that poorer areas can't get without paying for it. Parents that work two jobs or an area full of single parents just can't afford to donate as much time.

What really matters is how much one on one time each child gets.

Omaha, NE

Teaching in Utah works financially when one of the spouses has another decent paying job. Apparently want male role models for teachers. We want teachers who have experience in industry (say for example a former engineer technician for a physics or a engineering class or a former news broadcaster in a journalism class). This means that someone would have to take a bad paying job. Forces the other spouse out of the home and into a job doesn't it? Those who support low pay for teachers, de facto support two income households. Most are now anyway I suppose, but it seems an undesirable goal.

@ Twin and Blue Devil, great comments.

LDS Liberal
Farmington, UT

Q: 'Will more per-pupil spending help?’

A: YES!, Yup, Yupper, and No-Duh.

Moab, UT

Utah also has the lowest health-care costs. Does that mean if we pay higher Insurance premiums we will be healthier?

Sugar City, ID

We could significantly reduce the per pupil spending by encouraging home schooling. There is a lot of material available to parents that can help provide excellent educations for their children. What if the state provided parents with a stipend of 1/2 of what the schools get plus some administrative assistance and guidance and accountability. For each home schooled student the state would save 50% and the kids would get a better education than they get in overcrowded classrooms taught by overworked, unionized teachers. If just 10% of the children in Utah were home schooled, then the cost of education in the state would be reduced by 5%. No need to increase the budget; just promote home schooling. Before long, Utah would lead the nation in education.

Fred Savage
Clearfield, UT

Last week one of the local stations ran a story regarding the money spent on per pupil eduction.

Utah spends $6,452 per pupil. According to the piece, this does not include the building operating and maintenance costs. $6,452 multiplied by the number of students in each class (we will use 30) is a total of $193,560.

I don't know if I could handle 30 third graders for what the teacher is being paid, but I would consider it for $193,560.

Steven S Jarvis
Orem, UT


Your information regarding Charter Schools is erroneous. Charter schools student bodies are not exclusive nor do they have any control over who gets in. When space is available, Charter schools must follow state law to fill any vacancies. There is a lottery system when there are more students who apply than space is available. From that lottery a wait list is developed that designate an order to admittance.

At the Charter school I teach at we have slightly higher rates for special education students than our neighboring schools. We have more social, racial and economic diversity than neighboring schools because our student population can come from anywhere in the valley.

Bountiful, UT

Steven S Jarvis:

You did not refute UtahBlueDevil's point about the parents of charter school kids being, by definition, more engaged in their childrens' educations, overall.

In order to fairly compare public schools and charter schools you would need to account for the situation where - for whatever reason - the child does not have as much home/parental support and drive for their educational success.

I'm not sure exactly how this factor is measured, but it seems to me the public schools will have greater numbers of parents who are let's say "disinterested" in their child's education than charter schools.

Do you disagree?

The Hammer
lehi, utah

This article is pure BS. Charter schools do not do better than public schools. If you take a public elementary school with a demographic from the upper middle class and place it against a charter school with the same demographic you will see that the Public school far out performs the charter school.

Charter schools have several major flaws that cause this. First of all, they can't pay for good teachers so they take the left overs who didn't get the job at the public school. Second they have very high turnover in their staff and curriculum. Most of these places can't keep good teachers because most of them move on to public schools where they have better facilities, better work environment and better pay and benefits. Third, there is a higher proportion of kids who were failing in the public system and so their parents pulled them out thinking they would do better in a charter school only to find its not the school its their kid. Many charter schools are full of them.


Teachers get less take home pay than others with similar education and knowledge. You have to compare apples to apples. A teacher with a bachelors degree starts at less than $15/hr with a take home amount of around $12/hr. Most bachelors degree students in a non teaching career get $19/hr with a take home of $15/hr and both careers usually have similar benefits.

This writer thinks you can pay people sub par wages and get super results but the old line "you pay for what you get" applies even to teachers. And since the 70s we have been under-funding this career choice which means we don't get the cream of the crop teaching our kids we get the middle to low end college students being the teachers therefore "We pay for what we get."

Now throughout my life I have had some good teachers who should have been paid more for what they do and I have had some crappy ones but that's because you have some that are passionate about the career and you have some that see it only as a job.

Durham, NC

Steven S Jarvis - you completely misunderstood me. Completely.

Charter schools don't select their students, but they have a self selecting student body. No kids is districted into the school. They do not represent the population at large. They are a self selected by the parents who enroll their kids there. Yes, lotteries are used, but no one on the lottery is districted onto that list. It is a self elected list by parents who choose to do something for their kids.

You are right though. Race, and all that have nothing to do with performance. What these families have in common is they are highly engaged parents.... at least compared to the general population. To say the "activism" level of charter level school parents is the same as the general population is not a reasonable representation of most charter schools. Parents involvement matters - no matter the race, income, or locality.

Steven S Jarvis
Orem, UT

We have parents that fit all ends of the spectrum when it comes to how involved they are with their children's education. Some parents would do back flips if that is what it took for their kids to be successful. Others drop their kids off and expect the school to do everything. We have several kids in each classroom that do not have ideal support at home. Some haven't slept well or had dinner or breakfast. Some never do homework. We as an LEA still must find ways to reach all the kids regardless of their backgrounds. Charter schools from inner-city areas such as the KIP models have much more difficulties.

Charter schools are more reflective of the social-economic population at large than are districts. Having school boundaries means that some schools are poor, others are rich. Charters have a higher spread of backgrounds. I have had a child of a multi-millionaire sitting next to a child whose parents live in poverty. You simply don't get that when attending a neighborhood school.

Lehi, UT

According to the current 2012 test results, 30% of charter schools in Utah outperform their public school counterpart averages. 70% do not. The article begins its logic with a false assertion. That made it hard to take the rest seriously.

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