Tuesday, October 14, 2014

More Taxpayer Money for Schools? ... That's No Solution ... It Would Just Mean More Waste ... When Will We Ever Learn?

As Chad's post yesterday clearly reveals, over time the money Americans spend on education has dramatically outpaced both the growth in the number of students and the rate of inflation. And even worse, what we are getting in the way of educational results for that money spent, aka student outcomes, has weakened compared to results in many other countries.

The recent formula has been more spending for worse outcomes, in other words, and that's a very bad thing --- and a very 'uncompetitive' thing as well.

So the solution proffered by our so-called big spending educators and politicians is what it always has been --- to spend more money in the same old way. That's the definition of insanity in action (doing the same thing over and over and expecting a different result) as additional spending without changing the game plan is going to produce the same mediocre or worse outcomes. We need more for less and not more less for more when it comes to educating our young leaders of tomorrow's America.

But the politicians and school officials continue to say that if we only spent more, everything would be better and in time our problems would be solved. Well, that's long been their only proffered solution to all our educational problems. If we spend more taxpayer money, someday in the indefinite future the sun will shine again and all will be well. Not a chance.

Here's the question du jour? When will we ever learn that more of the same reckless and needlessly wasteful spending won't yield the desired results?

Schooling GOP Candidates is well worth reading and reflecting upon:

"Many of the political races to be settled next month may turn not on national issues like ObamaCare but instead on local issues like . . . school spending, where Republican candidates find themselves playing defense.

In North Carolina, Democratic Sen. Kay Hagan has accused Republican challenger Thom Tillis of cutting education spending by $500 million as a state legislator—a charge that she repeated during their debate on Tuesday. The reality is that school spending in North Carolina has risen every year since Mr. Tillis became speaker of the House in 2011. There has been no budget cut in school spending, only a reduction in the rate of increase. Yet to counter Ms. Hagan’s charges, the Tillis camp has been running ads that highlight the spending increases and teacher pay raises that have occurred on his watch.

GOP Gov. Rick Scott of Florida actually cut education spending in his first year by $1.3 billion to help close a budget gap, a move that his Democratic opponent this year, former Gov. Charlie Crist , has criticized relentlessly in ads. But Mr. Scott has spent three years touting his subsequent education-spending increases—this year’s set a record—and trying to convince voters that he would throw as much money at education as Democrats.

Republican candidates might do better to explain to voters that more spending is no guarantee of better schools. New York spends more money per pupil than any state in the nation, yet only two in five New York state high school students are ready for college-level work, according to a College Board report released on Tuesday. New York City, which tops all large school systems in spending per student, has very little to show for it. “Of the 1,262 elementary and middle schools in the city, 82% have more than 50% of students failing,” reports the New York Post. “And only 45 of those 1,262 schools had 70% of students pass the English test.”

Republicans could also change the subject by explaining that school-choice reforms produce better outcomes in the classroom and are a better bargain for taxpayers. “Students transferring to private schools using publicly funded vouchers saved participating states more than $1.7 billion over a 20-year period,” according to a study of 10 voucher programs in the U.S. released last week by the Friedman Foundation for Educational Choice. “From 1990 to 2011, students in six states and Washington, D.C., received $2.8 billion in voucher funds to attend private schools of choice. In making that choice, those students also relieved public schools of $4.5 billion in variable expenses. You do the math: $4.5 billion minus $2.8 billion equals $1.7 billion.”

Research has long shown that school choice correlates with superior test scores, graduation rates, parental satisfaction and college performance. But it’s also a more economical way of teaching kids. Instead of telling voters that more of their tax dollars should go to the union-controlled education blob, Republicans might try explaining how current expenditures could be used more wisely."

{NOTE: For a quick look at the effect of newly asserted parental control versus the same old bureaucratic and public sector union government knows best approach, see also Miracle on 24th Street which is subtitled 'Positive early returns on California's parental school-trigger law.}

Summing Up

The evidence is overwhelming that we're spending too much on education and not getting anywhere near our money's worth.

With an intrusive government offering to solve our problems with education by throwing more money after every problem we face, we won't ever solve any of the multitude of serious internationally competitive problems that we have today. If money were the answer to all our ills, these issues would have dropped off the table long ago.

But in fact, today's problems are the same as the problems of yesterday and which will become the problems of tomorrow, only worse. They will be solved only when we make a concerted effort to change our 'insane,' foolish and spendthrift ways.

With respect to education, local control is imperative. Unaccountable centralized bureaucracies are a huge part of the problem. The exercise of free choice by parents and students, and which choice is enabled by vouchers, is a fundamental necessity for systemic improvement.

In plain and simple language, we've been following the wrong approach for the past several decades. It's time to face up to the cold hard truth that centralization and government control of our educational system doesn't work.

To repeat, when will we ever learn?

Thanks. Bob.

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