The Cost of Education

Getty - William Thomas Cain

Getty – William Thomas Cain


Monday night, October 13th Hilary Clinton gave a speech at UNLV about education. She said it should be available to everyone and not just the wealthy. She was paid $225,000. Let’s look at some facts about how much we spend on schools and what we get in return.

Andrew J. Coulson, Director of the Cato Institute’s Center for Educational Freedom, created this graphic which illustrates the huge increase in tax money being poured into schools with no results. Anyone in the private sector would realize this ROI doesn’t make any sense.

Spending has increased almost 200% from 1970 to 2011 while student’s achievement has stayed flat or declined.
The Cost of Education 2
Coulson says the results speak for themselves:

“Clearly these data suggests that our educational productivity has collapsed: the inflation-adjusted cost of sending a student all the way through the K-12 system has almost tripled while test scores near the end of high-school remain largely unchanged.”

Keep in mind that these figures are adjusted for inflation. It’s not just the increase in the cost of doing business.

Critics suggest stagnate results are due to changes in school demographics. They argue that the participation of historically lower-scoring ethnic groups have skewed the results.

Coulson counters saying that white students are still in the majority and trends for just that segment is flat. This clearly demonstrates it’s not due to a change in demographics. They also claim socio-economics and other factors related to family circumstances are making students harder to teach.

However, a teachability study led by Dr. Jay P. Greene from the Manhattan Institute for Policy Research indicated that children have actually become slightly more teachable and concluded that “teachability cannot serve as an excuse for the education system’s failure to perform.”

The U.S. ranks 5th in the world in overall educational spending, yet 17th in test results. The facts are clear and can’t be ignored any longer.

It would be revitalizing to the educational system as a whole if our political leaders would stop searching for justifications for poor performance and acknowledge the indisputable point that blindly throwing money at our public schools is not going to improve test scores.

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