Published: Thursday, Jan. 16 2014 12:00 a.m. MST
Utah spends $8,224 per pupil per year. How many families have $8,224 to spend
on each child per year for their shelter, their food, their medicine, their
clothes and every other non-school expense? How many home-schoolers spend
$8,224 per pupil? Has anyone looked at the scores that compare home-schooled
pupils to publicly educated pupils?Here are a few facts published by
Brian D. Ray, Ph.D.:"The home-educated typically score 15 to 30
percentile points above public-school students on standardized academic
achievement tests.""Home-educated students typically score
above average on the SAT and ACT tests that colleges consider for
admissions.""Whether homeschool parents were ever certified
teachers is not related to their children’s academic achievement."Every year public schools demand more money. Every year more and more
of our children leave school unprepared for the most ordinary demands that
society places on adults.More money is not the solution.
Both sides seem to miss the point about what part of schooling is underfunded.
Why are we having the problems we have? Schools are getting the leftovers and
very few diehards who love teaching. Most breadwinners cannot make a living on a
teachers salary without an extra income in the household. And our planning for
growth is absolutely atrocious as witnessed by the Jordan school district
debacle.Schools should be small and school districts should be
community based to plan for growth. Teachers should be paid as if they are
breadwinners and not some second hand income for a family.
This argument is based on a false premise. Funding does not equal quality or
results.I do agree that public school teachers are the most
underpaid group in America, and that making their profession more competitive
and rewarding would attract better teachers. But ultimately the success of
students correlates most to the involvement of their parents, not to dollars
New England states excel at educating their children because they're
willing to pay the price. Utah parents are simply unwilling to pay the price for
excellence. They're happy with mediocrity. The boat in the driveway is more
important than an excellent education for the children. It's that simple.
Whenever this subject is brougt up the first thing you hear from public
education critics is about wasteful spending and poor teaching. Those are just
diversion tactics used by critics to starve the educational system and push
their dream of vochers.
I agree with the people saying that districts need to be small and local (and
locally funded). Then you can grow as much (or as little) as the local
population wants to grow, and you can fund them as much as you want, pay the
teachers more if you want, and tax people more if you want. That's the
way they do it in many places back East (like Vermont).This has some
good and some bad (if you ask anybody back there).Good:You
have local control. Everybody goes to the small local school district meetings
and votes on what will happen in THEIR local school. And they get to pay the
price of their votes (that may belong on the bad side of the sheet).
We'll get to that.This results in communitys that WANT a top
notch school district to get it (and to pay for it).This results in
those communities having super-high property values (because everybody wants to
buy a home in that school district because their schools are known to be top
notch. You actually get more when you sell your house (and pay more to move
into that community).continued...
If I spend $1000/wk on groceries and all my neighbors spend more than that, does
that automatically mean that my grocery budget is underfunded? That seems to be
the position of the person who wrote this letter.So let's
assume that his logic leads to Utah increasing its budget to be middle of the
pack. That means some other state is now at the bottom and, according to his
logic, that budget will need to be increased. In fact, there will always be some
state at the bottom and if that logically shows education is underfunded in that
state, we will end up with never-ending escalation of costs.Never
once does that argument allow for a discussion of what is the right level for
education funding. You might very well end up with my grocery example where the
minimum funding is ridiculously high. Yet still, those who think like this
writer will claim that it is too low simply because it is less than everyone
Irony Guy reminded me of something the writer P.J. O'Rourke said about the
baby boomer generation: "We may not have managed America's money well,
but the boomers' demand for more and better gizmos has filled the nation
with amazing playthings, from tiny talking computers to gigantic flat-screen
TVs with roughly 2,000 channels to watch on them. We're the generation
that will die with the most toys." (AARP: The Magazine, Dec.-Jan issuee)
And we wonder why public education is sinking in America, most
conspicuously in Utah. The governor and legislators haven't the courage
to "tell it like it is" in education--K-12 teachers overloaded,
undercompensated, undersupported, and micromanaged into discouragement in an era
of missleading test results above all else. If the parents and children are busy
with their toys, they'll never miss that education isn't what it
should and could be in Utah with the right priorities, not just the Right's
Now for the bad:-Poor communities suffer. They can't afford higher
taxes so they vote down proposals to increase property taxes to fund schools...
so the schools suffer... so the property values suffer.Houses sell
for lower prices in that neighborhood, many people won't buy them, because
of the reputation of bad underfunded schools.----But
it's also true that the schools with lots of money don't necessarily
produce better education (smarter kids).The kids and the parents
enjoy it more (because everything's nice and clean and the teachers are fat
and happy). But in the end... test results show that the actual basic
education they get is not neccesarily different. But the preppy kids do better
in college (because they have everything they could want in school, the parents
are highly involved, and the kids are highly motivated to learn and succeed).But kids in the poor neighborhoods have it stacked against them.So there's good and bad. But at least they have more control and
can make their own local funding decisions. If we increase property taxes...
The money just goes to build somebody elses school.
Thinkin\' Man,Agreed that parental involvement is key.And it is true that funding does not necessarily equal quality or results.
But try to get them without funding.In every human endeavor properly
applied resources are the keys to success. You buy resources (teachers,
buildings, texts, etc.) with money. Yes, there has to be a good plan in place
to use them and, that which is beyond what can be well implemented is wasted.
But, overall, funding = resources = improved success.Look at similar
geographic and demographic districts with vastly different funding (might be
hard in Utah but it is not so hard in the New England states). The difference
is clear.If money and success are not correlated, then the
conclusion is simple. Stop funding education and you will still get the same
product. We know this is false on its face because we also know that money is
essential to the equation. How much and how allocated are great discussions to
have. But the concept that there is no real relationship between money and
success is impossible in the real world.
I still think the people who think all we need to do it increase funding... need
to put a number on it. What number will make you happy?Then we will
know if we are talking about something realistic and do-able? Or shooting at a
moving target that can never be hit.===Every year we
increase school funding (State Wide). And every year we think these people will
be even a little happy. But every year it isn't enough for them. What
number IS enough??If you can't put a number on it... how do you
expect us to satisfy you?===And if you just say we need
to compete with other States spending... then there's no way we win. If we
just play the escalating-spending game (to avoid the bottom of the list)...
that game just means EVERYBODY must increase spending forever (to stay off the
bottom of the list).We can't win this escalating-spending game
(comparing our spending to other States). It's a no-win scenario.We need to figure out what the magic number is for Utah (not California
or NY)... and shoot for that.
Utah would rather spend money to fight equality than spend it to educate
@Mike Richards -- Guess what. Public school teachers have to be paid. Parents
don't. Thus, public schools are going to cost more than a home school.
Darn those teachers for wanting to be paid for doing their jobs!
In 2011, Sara Lenz reported for the Deseret News: "From 2007 to 2010, the
number of home-schooled children nationwide rose by about 25 percent to the
current estimate of 2 million."One website reports that over
3,000,000 students drop out of high school each year. That report also cites
that over 8,000 students give up every day. Further, it reports that 75% of all
crime is committed by high school dropouts and that 90% of all jobs are
unavailable to high school dropouts.Why would anyone want to
increase spending on a system that is failing so badly? If 3,000,000 students
give up on the system every year across America, how will money improve the
system. Sure, the teachers will be happier, but the students will still leave.
Home schoolers don't have any money, yet they value their
children enough to spend a little money and much time educating those
children.As long as the emphasis is on money and not on results, the
exodus will continue.
I have never responded to one of these but I just can’t let this go. Joe5Your point is a good one, but how about I give you a
better argument than the one in the letter. How about this? We don’t
put enough money into education and it causes our schools to be overcrowded. Can
you honestly tell me that current class sizes in Utah are acceptable?
Don’t tell me that school districts just need to be more efficient and
that will solve all our problems. That’s a bunch of bull. 2
bits“Every year we increase school funding (State Wide). And
every year we think these people will be even a little happy. But every year it
isn't enough for them. What number IS enough??”It will be
enough when we don’t have overcrowded schools and when teachers are paid a
decent living wage. 1-2% increases pay for growth and that’s about it. The
legislature wants you to think it’s doing something really great and
wonderful, but they are just maintaining the status quo.
2bits, I can put a number on it. As soon as we've paid the price for
Utah's students to be scoring alongside world-class students, then
that's the number. And it's not hard to calculate. Just look at the
increase in funding over the past 20 years in MA and NJ and you'll see a
strong correlation between funding increases and standardized test score
increases. That amount of money is about 2X per student what we're spending
now in Utah. Tiny incremental increases that don't even match inflation do
NOT cut it.
To those of you that think we just need to spend more on education, that is a
dumb idea. The poblem isn't how much is spent per child, but how much
makes it to the classroom. Think of it this way. What good is it to add $2,000
per child if only $100 makes it to the classroom while the other $1900 is spent
on 3 new district specialists, a school aid that spends half her time surfing
the internet, and helped justify hiring a new non-teaching coach at the
highschool. Currently the nationally we average only 60% of every dollar making
it to the classroom. If we got rid of the waste at the district and
administration levels, we could do more without paying more.
What's the number iaacp and Irony Guy? That's all I ask.If it's so easy... give us the number. If what you say is correct,
"it's not hard to calculate"... give us the number.===As long as every increase we give education never makes it to
the teachers... it's not easy to calculate.===I'm out of comments... so if you can just give us the number that will
satisfy you... I'm sure the legislature will look into it.But
if you just keep saying... till we don't have any crowding, or until our
spending matches other States... we will continue to not know what is actually
needed, or if what we are doing is actually getting us there, and we will
continue just sending more and more money to a group that will never, ever,
ever... be happy.Name a State where teachers (and their Union) think
they have enough money and they aren't pushing for more...I'll be waiting.
iaacp: You seem hung up on class size so I assume you think there is a direct
correlation between education and class size.- I assume then that you
believe most colleges have it all wrong with their auditorium-size classes with
hundreds of students.- I assume you can trot out data (vs opinion and
conjecture) that show a near 1.0 correlation between class size and
education.- I assume you can define "education" and determine the
best way for it to be measured.When I was growing up in the
'60s, it was pretty widely accepted that testing is an inadequate measure
of education because of things like culture or language. For example, Civil War
history is more likely to resonate with a student in Georgia than one in Nevada.
Does that mean the one from Nevada is uneducated?In short, I
don't think you even have a good way to assess "education," much
less isolate a specific cause for its differences.Is class size
really the disease you want to heal or is it education? To me, they are two very
One comment & one question: 1. Everything is underfunded -
roads, Highway Patrol, state buildings and every other type of infrastructure,
department and salary. 2. When referring to education, just what
within education is underfunded? Is it teacher salaries, staff salaries,
buildings, utilities, tables and chairs, books, band programs, busing, floor
polish, UEA/NEA dues or what?
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