Friday, September 17, 2010

John Stossel: Money Is Not What Schools Need

"U.S. Education Secretary Arne Duncan recently claimed: "Districts around the country have literally been cutting for five, six, seven years in a row. And, many of them, you know, are through, you know, fat, through flesh and into bone ... ."

Really? They cut spending five to seven consecutive years?
Give me a break!

Andrew Coulson, director of the Cato Institute's Center for Educational Freedom, writes that out of 14,000 school districts in the United States, just seven have cut their budgets seven years in a row. How about five years in a row? Just 87. That's a fraction of 1 percent in each case.

Duncan may be pandering to his constituency, or he may actually be fooled by how school districts (and other government agencies) talk about budget cuts. When normal people hear about a budget cut, we assume the amount of money to be spent is less than the previous year's allocation. But that's not what bureaucrats mean.
"They are not comparing current year spending to the previous year's spending," Coulson writes. "What they're doing is comparing the approved current year budget to the budget that they initially dreamed about having."

So if a district got more money than last year but less than it asked for, the administrators consider it a cut. "Back in the real world, a K-12 public education costs four times as much as it did in 1970, adjusting for inflation: $150,000 versus the $38,000 it cost four decades ago (in constant 2009 dollars)," Coulson says.
Taxpayers need to understand this sort thing just to protect themselves from greedy government officials and teachers unions.

It was on the basis of this fear and ignorance that President Obama got Congress to pass a "stimulus" bill this summer that included $10 billion for school districts. The money is needed desperately to save teachers from layoffs, the bill's advocates said. We must do it for the children!

When you look at the facts, the scam is clear.

"Over the past 40 years," Coulson writes, "public school employment has risen 10 times faster than enrollment. There are 9 percent more students today, but nearly twice as many public school employees."
But isn't it just common sense that schools would be better if they had more money? As a wise man said, it's not what we don't know that gets us into trouble; it's what we know that isn't so.

Consider the American Indian Public Charter School in Oakland, Calif. It was once a failing school, but now it's one of the best in California. Ben Chavis turned it around without any additional money. His book, Crazy Like a Fox, tells how.

He and Coulson will be guests on my FBN show tonight.

Chavis' experience exposes the school establishment's lies for what they are. Nearly all of Chavis' students are considered economically disadvantaged (98 percent qualify for free lunches), yet they have the fourth-highest test scores of any school in the state."

Only the old folks like me remember back when unions were considered a Godsend. Then, the calender changed to 1960 and the times they were a'changin'.

I have absolutely no qualms with people getting as much money as they can get from their respective occupations. That said, teaching isn't all that hard mentally or physically, at least it doesn't HAVE to be, and instead of handling the problem of incredibly stupid kids from the bottom on up...meaning FAMILY VALUES comes first and amount of cash is going to solve the problem of why Kizzaneshia can't read and Tyrone can't spell.

Discipline and attention to detail works wonders when raising a child. Just ask my Dad. He sent me to private schools that sat 45-50 children per classroom, every subject, all the livelong day...and if I even dared of wasting his hard earned money by failing to do my best it was curtains and I knew it. I paid attention, or the forthcoming discipline was too frightening to imagine.

But it wasn't just the families that were held responsible once upon a time, but the teachers were, too. Unions were far from strong enough to do something dumb like requiring their membership to work and teach less in exchange for lots more money and time off. Plenty of people around that could teach and if you didn't like it, then find something else to do.

Not anymore. It's beating a dead horse to make mention of the bunko scheme that teachers and their unions have been perpetrating upon America and all I can say is thank the heavens for private schools that pop out one child after another who can pronounce his own name and even spell it correctly too.


TJP said...

I have so much information on this particular topic--at least from a local perspective--that I have to narrow it down to one set of figures: in the last ten years our district's spending has increased by over 55%, and enrollment has dropped by about 15%.

Some of the increase is due to higher utilities costs, and some due to the fact that the state tends to place expensive special ed kids with multiple disabilities in school systems where they won't be ignored--but none of these add up to a half-again increase in spending. No new teaching positions were created--in fact some of them were eliminated.

The lion's share of the cost increase is due to...did you guess it already? raises and maintaining ridiculous HMOs which continually rise in price because government keeps mandating coverage for everything.

So, as mentioned in the article, we have the claim that more money fixes things. Yet the overall organization, staff and work schedule have not changed. That's not logical. No one speaks the truth at budget hearings, but every one of them knows it: the reason why things are going to pot and teachers are getting fired is because no one is willing to take a freeze. Oh--scratch that--it's far too late for freezes, now it's going to have to be cuts.

fits said...

First off, long time no see. B, Never feel you must summarize here. Knowledge is power and I aim to be Superman times 10.

Living as we do in a university town, the degree of outlandish liberalism runs as a amok as amok can run, with as an example, "special-needs" kids being virtually anyone with a tan darker than mine. The University of Florida calls the shots to the extent that the state itself takes a backseat. Without it's grants and gifts who could afford boys rooms, girls rooms, and today I don't know who I am rooms.

Classes have to be so small as to be as close to a one-on-one as is humanly conceivable. and its incredible to have a peek inside a room meant to comfortably fit 35-40...which means cooling and even yes, heating a rather large area...and see half the room chockablock with computer learning areas adjacent to the regular seating arrangements for the 20-25 students.

Yeah, the ludicrous HMO system will be the doom of us all, or at least our wallets; particularly when family coverage means dosing every last rug rat with more Ritalin than most pharmacies keep in stock.

And to veer off topic, it never ceases to amaze how much the loons caterwaul about overcrowded prison systems yet keep voting down any attempt to build more jails or add more guards. The Sheriff's budget in our county takes, when its all added together, 50% of the total outlay of resources. Gainesville proper has no jail, everyone gets shuttled off to the county seat, and its a one-for-one arrangement.

Meaning when one new prisoner arrives, release papers must be cut for one existing guest of the county. Since most of them are incarcerated for one violent crime after another, the least likely to take a life are set free and since that's just an uneducated guess those so released are soon back and that means letting someone else go.

Schools and prisons, the neverending story.