Monday, November 10, 2008

Studying is a Personal Decision

Dig this.

Education spending and reading scores are clearly not strongly coupled. Click on the chart for a better view.

A friend of mine used to work in IT at a school district where the dropout rate was high and the students' performance was terrible. Money poured into the school and was spent like water. Nothing changed. Why?

Studying or staying in school is a personal decision, it is not a collective one. If a student and their parents don't care about school, then all the money in the world isn't going to change anything. If you're the kind of parent who doesn't go to report card night and talk to the teachers, the school could have a helipad and an astronomy observatory and you still wouldn't go. If you're a student and you smoke weed at lunch in the parking lot, the school could have holograph-generating computers teaching chemistry and you'd still be getting high with your stoner friends.

What the chart above shows is that we passed the point at which investment affects performance long, long ago. Everything added on from here on out is just a waste of money.

Chart used without permission from an article on school choice from the Heritage Foundation.


Anonymous said...

See, this is where the people wanting unspecified amounts of money to support their schools in unspecified ways lose me: I went to a series of schools that didn't have a whole heck of a lot of frills. Up through 3rd grade, I went to a 3-room schoolhouse, with three teachers who took turns doing custodial duties, and one of whom drove the school bus. There was no lunchroom, no other staff, the senior teacher's son mowed the lawn, and the library was a little wheeled cart that went from room to room once a week. And it was *fine*.

Later, we moved to a different rural school district, where the elementary school was pretty much the same as the little 3-room one multiplied by about four. The combined middle school/high school had one custodian, a principal, a secretary, about a dozen teachers, and a mixture of teachers and part-time people to drive the school buses. There was nothing fancy, but everything was *adequate*. We had chemicals for chemistry lab, there were typewriters for the typing classes, the four of us who wanted to study calculus were able to do it in an after-hours class that the principal taught personally, there was a nice gym and athletic field for the people who liked that sort of thing, and I think everybody got as much education as they wanted. When I went off to college, I had no trouble keeping up with people who supposedly came from more "advantaged" schools.

So, these are all the schools I have direct experience with, and I don't really see what there is to spend a lot of money on other than having a heated structure, a sufficient number of teachers, and a way to get the kids to the schools. What do these other schools spend their money on, anyway? This isn't a rhetorical question, I really don't know.

K T Cat said...

Ha! You've disproved your own point! You went to all these underfunded schools and now look at you. You've been reduced to taking photos of bugs!


Ohioan@Heart said...

Sadly, while you've proven that spending is not correlated to test scores, the products of our educational system have not been taught what means, and so will continue to assume that if there is a problem (and I mean IF), then the solution is to throw money at it.

Anonymous said...

"Money poured into the school and was spent like water. Nothing changed. Why?"

Mr Cat: Clearly you have not cared enough about the children to spend whatever it takes.

Please send more money.

Love, NEA (the education one, not the piss-christ one).

Dean said...

I dunno... those 9 year olds seem to be kicking some serious reading rear end.