Among the issues most commonly discussed are individuality, the rights of the individual, the limits of legitimate government, morality, history, economics, government policy, science, business, education, health care, energy, and man-made global warming evaluations. My posts are aimed at thinking, intelligent individuals, whose comments are very welcome.

"No matter how vast your knowledge or how modest, it is your own mind that has to acquire it." Ayn Rand

20 April 2008

The Cost of Public Schools

Today I mean the cost in tax dollars to support public schools, not the cost in ethical relativism, ignorance, group think, and propaganda devoured. Andrew Coulson of The Cato Institute did some looking into the numbers for the Washington, D.C. public school system. Through the last couple of years I have seen the cost per student given commonly in the range of $9,000 to $12,000 something. He states that the most commonly cited figure is $8,322 per student now. Why do these numbers vary so much? Well, it turns out that it is because it all depends on how much the school system decides to hide from the public.

Coulson found that for K through 12 in 2007-2008, the local operating budget is $831 million, the capital budget is $218 million, federal funding is $85.5 million, and the D.C. Council kicks in an additional $81 million. There are 49,422 students, some of whom, on a given day, actually come to school. Divide this number into the sum of the annual funding and the cost per student is found to be about $24,600, which is rather a bit more than $8,322.

I have heard many discussions about how it is difficult for private schools to take on the education of a child for about $8,322 per year, so they could not take over the public school burden of education. But.......the story is clearly very different when you realize that the public schooling cost for a virtual non-education is on par cost-wise with the very elite private school, Sidwell Friends, that Chelsea Clinton attended. Would any sane person actually send their child to the dangerous and dilapidated D.C. public schools rather than an elite private school? No!

It clearly makes much more sense just to provide parents with a scholarship voucher to use on the school of their choice. Sure, the amount on the voucher may be less than $24,600 per year per student, allowing one to save considerable money for the poor beleaguered taxpayers. Florida's McKay Scholarship program provides money for special-needs children and the average scholarship for 2006-2007 was only $7,206. Sure, the cost of living is lower in Florida, but special-needs education is more expensive to deliver than general education. It is clear that private schools are now available to do a better educating job even at a cost of $12,000 to $15,000 per year per student in even the D.C. area. Many new schools would soon arise to meet the need if parents were given such scholarships.

The quality of the education in D.C. schools is indecently poor. This school system is awash in bureaucracy, inefficiency, and out-right corruption. Parents should be allowed to put it out of business or force it to meet the competition. The fantasy that this public education is free and that it even is education, must be challenged. The forces enforcing its monopoly on the education of our young are truly evil. Those forces include egalitarian socialists and the teacher's unions.

Neither is interested in the individual student learning to think for himself.

No comments: