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  • Back to School: Some Surprising Education Numbers

    As children head back to the classrooms, let’s look at two important figures to consider this school year: 308,000 and $11,400.

    308,000: Number of members lost by the National Education Association.

    Education special interest groups, such as the teachers unions, are experiencing a decline in membership. As Stephen Sawchuck reports in Education Week, “by the end of its 2013–14 budget, NEA [the National Education Association] expects it will have lost 308,000 members and experienced a decline in revenue projected at some $65 million in all since 2010. (The figures are expressed in full-time equivalents, which means that the actual number of people affected is probably higher.)”

    While the decline in membership appears to have shocked the NEA, the remarks of one of the union’s top officials, treasurer Becky Pringle, are even more shocking:

    We’re living with a recession that just won’t end, political attacks that have turned brutal, and societal changes that are impacting us—from stupid education “reform” to an explosion of technology—all coming together to impact us in ways that we had never anticipated.

    Pringle is likely referring to the reforms that Governor Scott Walker (R–WI) put into place in his state last year, giving teachers the choice to join the union or not. And it’s no surprise that the unions fear the “stupid” reforms that are underway, namely, online learning and school choice. As former New York City Schools chancellor Joel Klein wrote in The Atlantic last week:

    [T]oday’s entrepreneurs know they can harness emerging technologies to reimagine teaching and learning. It’s a story as old as change itself. The candlemaker’s union wasn’t cheering Edison on.

    Those reforms are even more crucial considering the amount of taxpayer dollars that will be poured into the public system this year.

    $11,400: Average per-pupil, per year spending in public schools.

    Students headed back to school this fall will have historically high levels of dollars spent on them in the public school system. Nationally, average per-pupil spending exceeds $11,400 this year, meaning a child entering kindergarten today can expect to have no less than $148,000 spent on his or her education by the time the child graduates high school. In all, more than $570 billion will be spent on public K-12 education this year.

    Sadly, continual increases in the money spent per child and in overall spending haven’t led to increases in academic achievement. That’s due in large part to the fact that most parents still do not have control over where or how that money is spent. We continue to fund institutions—sending that money to schools—instead of actually funding children.

    Imagine if a child could put those dollars in a funding “backpack” and take that $11,400 to any school—public, private, or virtual. As in every other sector of American life, we would likely see outcomes improve as a result of competitive pressure placed on the government school system. Children would have access to schools that meet their unique learning needs. Parents would be able to harness the possibilities that online learning and customized education hold for tailoring their children’s educational experiences.

    For all of those reasons and more, funding portability and school choice is an important assignment for policymakers to undertake as the school year begins.

    Posted in Education, Featured [slideshow_deploy]

    26 Responses to Back to School: Some Surprising Education Numbers

    1. Alan Mask says:

      I am wondering if this average spending figure includes or excludes capital expenditures. That would make a substantial difference one way or the other. And in either event, does anyone have a figure on what the capital expenditure per student is per annum?

    2. Tom Sullivan says:

      Lindsey, have you looked at the national enrollment and national spending figures in "Public Education Finances: 2010" by the Census bureau (2012). In table 1 the total national education spending was $602.6 billion. In table 18 enrollment was 48.2 million. Therefore average spending per pupil K-12 was $12,492 in 2010. I doubt the average has gone down 9.6% for 2012.

    3. Dennis Beck says:

      There still needs to be some requirements on private and pubic online schooling options in order to maintain quality. Otherwise we will end up with some good options, but also will have some mega corporations that, like McDonalds, provide the lowest quality, least expensive option.

    4. Best educational reform would be elimination of Federal Dept. of Education and return education to local and state level. They are brainwashing our children.

    5. Fred E. Vanosdall says:

      Would you just happen to have the costs for
      pupil transportation
      Academic subjects per discipline/subject
      Arts and Music (separately)
      tracking data on students who drop out – costs lost on them – subsequent costs per student in future years – and of course athletics programs by sport/ gender ?
      then the travel time, transportation costs and related costsm, if m eals or over night expenses are involved.with sports.

      Gross data yields at best the average per student and tells us nothing about the academic investment
      we'll let the out comes speak for themselves about 5 years after graduation or drop out date.

    6. Amrut says:

      Its a shoking figure.

    7. FastTalker says:

      Can't wait to see a write up about what was introduced this year in our TENNESSEE school: Standards based grading. Probably already in place other places, but quite a pathetic concept to get your arms around. I have to wonder what group of educational elites came up with this: 6 questions on a test,
      6 out of 6=100
      5 out of 6=93 ( uh? )
      4 out of 6=85 (say what?)
      3 out of 6=75
      2 or 1 out of 6=55

      No zeroes, (too difficult to bring the grade up) and if you make anything below a 6/6, you get to RETAKE the test a week later to improve the grade. No kidding. The teachers all RAVED about it.

      Maryville School system, Maryville Tennessee.
      2 of my 3 children already in Private school. Last one will switch soon.

      Dear God, save us from ourselves!

      • O2BMe says:

        Some of our States have told the schools they do not have to teach Cursive Writing. That means our children will not be able to read the Countries Constitution some day.

    8. Tony Raskoon says:

      I fear what the arrival of massive amounts of fed money will do to the remaining decent schools over time. It can only wreck yet another educational market, driving up prices for those still fated to actually pay tuition. Look at college tuitions after student loans became ubiquitous. In addition, it strains credulity to assert that these federal dollars will remain 'no strings attached.' More likely, after financial dependence is established, federal mandates will follow.

    9. Bill Budlong says:

      I would love to see how the $11,400 is broken down, how it is allocated> How much to teacher salaries, adminstrator salaries, school supplies. school operating expenses, capital costs, union dues, and out of the union share, how much goes to lobbying and political "gifts", and what other surprizes there may be in the breakdown.

    10. Chip Fussell says:

      I think you meant the "average" child entering school can expect no less than $148k spent on their education. A child who doesn't represent the average can expect less or more to be spent.

    11. Semperpax says:

      I believe that our ability to cope with the great crises that lie ahead will be enhanced in direct ratio as we recapture the lost art of learning, and will diminish in direct ratio as we give responsibility for training our children’s minds to the federal bureaucracy.
      –Barry Goldwater

      Subscribing to the egalitarian notion that every child must have the same education, we have neglected to provide an educational system which will tax the talents and stir the ambitions of our best students and which will thus insure us the kind of leaders we will need in the future.
      –Barry Goldwater

      In our attempt to make education fun, we have neglected the academic disciplines that develop sound minds and are conducive to sound characters.
      –Barry Goldwater

    12. Kahr50 says:

      Just give me 1/2 of the allotment and I will send my kid to Catholic school and start an investment account for them each year with the difference ($11,900 / 2) – $2,500 = $3,200 per year deposited each of their 13 years in primary schooling). From K-12 the deposits in the account would be $41, 600 without interest.

      What a way to start life after high school. A solid education based in Christian principles and over $40,000 in savings….

    13. Evan Frankl says:

      As a former public school teacher I feel obligated to add one BUT to the financial statistics. Yes the American public schools spend too much per student considering the results after 13 or 14 (pre-k) years of schooling. However, the $11,400 figure is a combination of general education spending and special education spending. Special education services for each special education student is protected under federal law and services MAY NOT be cut regardless the financial distress of the district. If we look at spending statistics over the last 40 years we will see SPECIAL education expenditures per student skyrocket, and educational expenditures for GENERAL education largely keep pace with inflation. It is another example of a special interest group hijacking an entire government program. A sad irony in conclusion – gifted and talented is not considered SPECIAL education so the funding for our future leaders can be cut whenever the local district wants :(

    14. Chuck says:

      I like that "back pack" idea — and let the students put up to 20% of that per year into a higher education savings plan.

    15. Michele says:

      They need $11,400 to educate 1 child per year. The education will not be great, or even the best in the world…NEA should have even fewer teachers on their roles. I used to teach high school, now I homeschool my three children for about $200 a year for each child. They are doing work two to three years ahead of their peers. I don't force them to work hard they love to learn because it is fun…schools rarely can teach that. I just have one question, why are the funds not attached to the kids? I think it is because nobody would send their kids to public school if they had a choice to homeschool or send them to a private school. It is about time that the public schools cleaned up their act, and started to do their jobs. Yes, some teachers work hard, very hard, but many hardly work.

    16. Dixie says:

      In Colorado, any student can go to any school they choose if there is room in that school. The charter schools claim they are doing better than the public schools but some of them are exempt from testing. The figures don't add up so I am not sure being able to go wherever they want to go has made any difference.

    17. Don R. Sherwood says:

      There is no chance of improving our schools under the current system. The unions have only one motivation – improve the income of their members. The children are of little to NO concern. The union leasdership exists to collect dues to be spent as the union leaders wish.

      The teaching establishment knows they are in control of the current structure. Since the overall system CANNOT BE CHANGED within the current structure, the best alternative is to introduce competition. Competition can most quickly come in the form of vouchers and charter schools. When the existing teaching establishement faces the threat of being replaced, they will shape up. If they don't, then they WILL be replaced. Either way, our children will be the winners.
      AS pointed out in the above article, the candle makers did not cheer for Edison. Neither did the buggy whip manufacturers ane their employees did not cheer for Henry Ford!

      Change is required. Our education system is very similar to that of 100 years ago. The key difference is the unions and the bureaucracy, which consume a substantial protion of every education dollar spent, today!

    18. Heather says:

      I completely agree with Don S-THEY DO NOT CARE ABOUT OUR CHILDREN, JUST HOW TO SPEND THE MONEY. And considering what my son just went through, WE WOULD KNOW, We live in IL where they don't even CARE ABOUT THE SPECIAL EDUCATION STUDENTS-not even a little bit-they are too busy BLAMING the student for being sick, or the parent for letting them get sick, that they DO NOT take time to look at the underlying problem-NOT JUST THEM. BUT THEY SYSTEM ITSELF-you are right, No they were not cheering on Edison, or Ford, neither are they cheering on ONLINE SCHOOL now-but waaa-IT IS TIME OUR CHILDREN GET AN EDUCATION THAT WILL HELP THEM SHAPE THE FUTURE, NOT DESTROY IT- IT is too bad we can't take that money per child, to a different school-maybe then MY SON wouldn't have BEEN HELD BACK AFTER A WEEK OF THE HIGHER GRADE FIRST, THEN HIS IEP DROPPED-ARE YOU KIDDING ME-I KNOW IT IS A LOT TO ASK THEM TO PAY ATTENTION TO THE STUDENTS, BUT COME ON, WHAT ARE THEY BEING PAID FOR—TO TEACH OUR CHILDREN. IF WE ALL GET TOGETHER AND MAKE A STATEMENT, WHAT ARE THEY GOING TO BE ABLE TO DO—SIT DOWN, SHUT UP, AND LISTEN WOULD BE MY FIRST REQUEST.

    19. Evan says:

      Just a comment on charter schools. It is a rare event where New York State is actually doing things right. Charters are coming up for renewal, some charter schools have been put on probation, and a few have been shut down. Charter schools CAN and SHOULD do better than similar public schools – there is no guarantee that they WILL. My only concern is that the metric if a charter school is meeting its threshold is based on standardized test scores. Regular public, charter, even many parochial schools, it is impossible to avoid test drill overkill. My mother is a retired school nurse and she saw the headaches and stomach aches that always seemed to correlate to "drill time"
      As for why I am a college librarian today, besides loving the work, I tell others "I didn't need to earn an M.Ed to be an overpaid Kaplan tutor. Thats all the public schools want today"

    20. Lya says:

      Isn't it a non sequitur to go from "we spend truckloads of money on public education" to "teacher unions are the cause of our less-than-stellar educational outcomes"? Where is the evidence linking teacher unions with poor student performance?

    21. When faced with a challenge, the greatest cause of failure is due to our own assumptions, not the challenge itself. After the fact, every solution seems obvious once uncovered. With all respect to the writer of this blog and everyone on the front lines in this battle to educate our children, we are overlooking the obvious answer which the unions are powerless to stop, and which costs a parent nothing in dollars.
      Please go to http://www.pointtoreading.com to the rest of the answer.

    22. Scott Carver says:

      The only way to "fix" the Education system is to get the Unions out of it, give parents a say in the curriculum, and make teachers responsible for the performance of their students.
      I have a very simple way to accomplish the latter. Give teachers a yearly salary, based on seniority; and then give bonuses for the performance of their students. Say, 5% of salary if 75% of students maintain a 3.0 gpa with no students below a 2.0 gpa, 6% for 80% of students, 7% for 85%, 8% for 90%, 9% for 95%, 10% for 100% of students maintaining level. Add 2.5% bonus for students maintaining a 3.5 gpa, and 5% bonus for students maintaining a 3.8+ gpa. Throw in a $500.00 bonuse for EACH student that passes with a 4.0 gpa. Incentivize the teachers, but maintain Parental oversite of the progress.
      Now, you also need to incentivize the students as well. As they say, Money talks. A scholarship fund, set up by the school district, to give students a reason to achieve. Say, something along the line of $25 each semester for a 2.5 gpa, $50 for a 3.0, $75 for a 3.5, and $100 for a 4.0. So a student that wants to go to college can earn, in a 6-year Jr. High & High School career, as much as $1200.00 to be applied towards college or a trade school of their choice.
      Now I know that these suggestions could get expensive, especially in larger schools; but we need to do something. Doing nothing is not an option. And really, how much is too much to spend on our children?
      Just a suggestion.

    23. Renaus says:

      I live in Southern California and I send my children to parochial school. My out of pocket expense for this is $6,100 / school year / per child. This includes uniforms, books and transportation. If my kids transferred to public school they would zoom to the top of the class and be bored as had their friends done in certain situations. Parochial school teaches math, science, english, history and religious study. My kids are absolutely brilliant in constrast to public school children. WHY? I am telling you it has nothing to do with the money. The American public is getting ripped-off when it comes to public school education.

    24. Austin says:

      The $11,400 does not include capital costs, it only includes direct taxes for education. It does not include any bond measures, which is how they pay for buildings.

      The LA Unified School District reported that they were spending only $10k per student in 2010, when in reality, capital costs are included, they are actually spending $30k per student. That means that they are actually spending $750k per year on a class of 25 students!

    25. Jennifer says:

      I am happy the NEA is losing money, and sad that I have to pay so much in taxes for government institutions that are wasting our money, and not teaching our children what they should be learning. I chose to homeschool, because the "free schools" were not teaching my children well, and I realized that most of the assignments are not meaningful, but are busywork. Now I pay the taxes for schools to babysit other's children, and I have to come up with extra to educate my own children. I want an exemption, not a voucher. I should not have to pay one dime for schools I don't agree with. Vouchers mean that when they give you the money, there are strings attached. Beware of "gifts" from the government.

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