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Last login: Sunday, April 4, 2010
This article is very vague in the details of education financing in California. Before anyone throws "education" spending numbers around, that person needs to do a lot of work ensuring that apples and apples are being compared. For instance, the total cost of education in the US is about 8% of the Gross Domestic Product, although the General Fund Spending for schools is only about that that amount. The difference is that capital spending, and interest on financial instruments (such as bonds) amounts up to the other half. Sadly, many public schools do not provide an accurate accounting of the total cost of educating students in their districts, so the total cost reported to the public is typically only about half (on a 30 year average) of what the real cost is. The US DoE Center For Education Statistics is one of the few organizations that realizes this cost, and they do produce statistics with the "total cost" numbers. However, the report is just one of thousands that they produce, so unless you know what to loo k for, it might elude you. The California Budget Analysts office also produces some statistics that show that California is spending about $10,000 per student on education.
What most people don't understand is that staff salaries and benefits generally eat up about 85 per cent of a school district's general fund. No matter how much money you give to these districts, they are just going to increase salaries and benefits, and hire more staff--but these school districts are not going to increase the quality of education for the students.
So .. the first, and most important thing to understand in articles like this--the author simply does not understand the finances of the nation's (or California's) schools--and confuses education quality with dollars spent. There is very little correlation between these two numbers. There is, on the other hand, high correlation between student performance, and the educational attainment/performance of the parents.
People should be asking--"what are we getting for our money?", not "why aren't we spending more?"
April 4, 2010 at 3:22 p.m.
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