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How California’s Schools Brought The State To Its Financial Knees

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Posted by Andrew J. Coulson

As we watch California struggle with a budget deficit larger than the entire Iranian government’s budget, it’s worth exploring how the state got there. The biggest contributing factor: a staggering collapse in educational productivity.

In 1974-75, California spent $1,373 per pupil on k-12 public schooling. By 2006-07, it was spending $10,937. Adjusting the earlier figure for inflation (to $5,286 in 2007 dollars), that still represents a more than doubling in real spending per pupil.

Of course, if California public schools had doubled student achievement and eliminated dropouts, that might justify their staggering increase in cost. They haven’t. On the most reliable available measure of state academic achievement trends, the NAEP, California public school students have seen their scores go up by about 0.2% per year at the 4th and 8th grades since state-level data became available in 1990. In other words, the state’s scores have barely budged from the low position they have long occupied. As a 2005 RAND paper observes:

California placed 48th out of 50 states on the average NAEP score across all tests, just above Louisiana and Mississippi… California’s low scores cannot be accounted for by the high percentage of minority students. California’s scores for students from families with similar characteristics are the lowest in the nation: It ranks 47th out of 47 states when we compare scores for these students.

California is in budgetary hell because of a massive collapse in the productivity of its public schools. If the public schools had just maintained the productivity level they enjoyed in 1974-75, taxpayers would now be saving $36 billion annually. That’s $10 billion more than the deficit the state is currently facing.

It’s not hard to understand why: public schooling is a monopoly. There is no field within the free enterprise sector of the economy that has had a similarly horrendous productivity collapse over the past 35 years.

California can work its way back to fiscal sanity, and jump-start educational improvement, by encouraging entrepreneurship in education via k-12 education tax credits like this one.

Linky http://www.cato-at-liberty.org/2009/07/10/...inancial-knees/

So how much are we wasting on education services?

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This is the weekend of blame.

First its house prices.

Then its unemployment,

Then its poor wages.

Now its the eduation system.

blame everything but the cause....DEBT. The FEAR stage is about to begin, followed by Panic...my guess, September 2009 for fear to strike and deepen, Panic in the New year.

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In 1974-75, California spent $1,373 per pupil on k-12 public schooling. By 2006-07, it was spending $10,937. Adjusting the earlier figure for inflation (to $5,286 in 2007 dollars), that still represents a more than doubling in real spending per pupil.

Assumes inflation is measured correctly.

Perhaps real spending has stayed the same and inflation is double what it appears to be.

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This is the weekend of blame.

First its house prices.

Then its unemployment,

Then its poor wages.

Now its the eduation system.

blame everything but the cause....DEBT. The FEAR stage is about to begin, followed by Panic...my guess, September 2009 for fear to strike and deepen, Panic in the New year.

The problem is debt it always has been but to admit that would mean some awkward questions need answering.

The politicians don't want that to happen.

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Assumes inflation is measured correctly.

Perhaps real spending has stayed the same and inflation is double what it appears to be.

I wonder whether they include or exclude real-estate prices in their inflation adjustment?

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California is in budgetary hell because of a massive collapse in the productivity of its public schools. If the public schools had just maintained the productivity level they enjoyed in 1974-75, taxpayers would now be saving $36 billion annually. That’s $10 billion more than the deficit the state is currently facing.

Productivity?

It is probably just a case of teachers' salaries rising above inflation like everyone else's used to. The argument is completely meaningless as presented, but could be given some credence by stating what proportion of the budget goes on education, and how California compares to other states in this respect. I wonder why that was not done.

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Now its the eduation system.

blame everything but the cause....DEBT. The FEAR stage is about to begin, followed by Panic...my guess, September 2009 for fear to strike and deepen, Panic in the New year.

Actually this one is not debt, it's about public sector worker wages running amok. We're starting to see that here.

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They actually have some of the best schools in the world as well as some of the worst, driven by the fact that local property taxes directly fund local schools, My friends childrens school in Montecito is one of the best free schools you could ever hope to send your child, they get funding of well over $20,000 per pupil, which is paid from local residents taxes, not so far away in LA slum areas get funding of $4000 per pupil , this is like the UK system of buying a house in a good catchment area on steroids as the schools in the good areas are so much better that its impossible for the poor area schools to compete on any level...

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What I find interesting is the elites are having to decide for the first time in 2 generations.. who is going to face cutbacks among the insiders. Insiders being those who benefit from the regime.

But as the regime begins to crumble economically they are havign to cut insiders off. Naturally the first insiders to feel the pain are the lowest level workers in the state. I haven't yet seen the bureaucrats or administrators taking any pain yet.

But if the cash coming in is less than the accounts payable.. somebody is going to take the pain. For 2 generations the system has had ever increasing revenues from economic growth, or worst case they just raise taxes yet again. But now there is no one left to tax who isn't already max taxed, and the economy is shrinking.

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Guest eight
Actually this one is not debt, it's about public sector worker wages running amok. We're starting to see that here.

In the UK it could also be about staffing levels. The primary school I went to (early 80's) had 3 teachers, a head, a cleaning lady, and 2 dinner ladies (the latter three all part time). That was it.

When I pass there now not only has the school been replaced with a shiny new PFI one, but there are like 40 cars in the car park. A more graphic example is if you ever see the kids out and about on a field trip; not only are they all dressed in flourescent orange and chained together like Guantanamo inmates, but there's something like 1 adult for every 2 kids.

Is any of this really necessary?

eight

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A more graphic example is if you ever see the kids out and about on a field trip; not only are they all dressed in flourescent orange and chained together like Guantanamo inmates, but there's something like 1 adult for every 2 kids.

Is any of this really necessary?

eight

two words

compensation culture

we have brought it upon ourselves

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Linky http://www.cato-at-liberty.org/2009/07/10/...inancial-knees/

So how much are we wasting on education services?

It's notoriously hard to measure the quality of outputs from educational and health systems, as this cack article clearly demonstrates:

Ooh, let's show real dollars, let's show absolute performance changes over a fraction of the time frame we're discussing without providing evidence as to whether 2-3% is a material improvement, no let's show relative performance changes to other states without providing information about how their funding levels have changed.

Oh bugger, we've forgotten to control for changes in students profile / demographics, changes in technological training requirements that mean we have to provide computers rather than pen and paper and all the rest.

Note no provision of data regarding how teachers' salaries have changed in real $, or ow many students now have indoor toilets and the rest, just a pointless reference to emotive stuff like the budgets of countries that are supposed to scare right thinking Americans.

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Oh bugger, we've forgotten to control for changes....... in technological training requirements that mean we have to provide computers rather than pen and paper and all the rest.

Just as an aside, exactly why do we have to have computers everywhere in schools now?

Computers are just tools. Their evolution is toward a state where they will be operable by speech. You won't have to know anything to operate them; in fact I am living proof that you already don't.

So why spend a fortune kitting out every schools with computers? They aren't required.

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Just as an aside, exactly why do we have to have computers everywhere in schools now?

Computers are just tools. Their evolution is toward a state where they will be operable by speech. You won't have to know anything to operate them; in fact I am living proof that you already don't.

So why spend a fortune kitting out every schools with computers? They aren't required.

Why bother with all that faff of speech operable computers when they'll be hardwired into your brains by the year 2120?

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Just as an aside, exactly why do we have to have computers everywhere in schools now?

Computers are just tools. Their evolution is toward a state where they will be operable by speech. You won't have to know anything to operate them; in fact I am living proof that you already don't.

So why spend a fortune kitting out every schools with computers? They aren't required.

10 books cost £100. 1 computer costs £350. 4 years at school saves £50

saves satchel space.

pupils learn the important task of copy and paste.

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10 books cost £100. 1 computer costs £350. 4 years at school saves £50

saves satchel space.

pupils learn the important task of copy and paste.

And how to use wikipedia.

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And how to use wikipedia.

Facebook...vital for a rounded lifestyle.

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I don't think there is any relationship between money spent on schooling and results. Kids in China were learning 50 to a one room schoolhouse, sitting on the floor with chalkboards. And they seem to have learned more than American school kids on average.

Beyond that most things that are really valuable at school... reading, mathematics; you have to learn yourself. Just do lots of math problems of gradually increasing difficulty, with the textbook introducing one new step at a time. The teacher is useful mainly for guiding students in their work and helping when students are stuck. You can't learn math from a teacher droning on for an hour a day infront of the class.

Same with reading.. you have to actually read. Everyone I know who is an avid reader is good at spelling and comprehension and can read quickly.

I'm actually getting to the point where I don't even believe in schooling. I've made a lot of money over the last decade with my understanding of economics, and I am self-taught. Meanwhile all the PHD economists that I saw with their many years of formal schooling, missed predicting the economic event of the generation. And still seem to have no clue what is going on with their fancy mathematical formulas and graphs.

Otoh if we borrow money and spend it on schools so hundreds of thousands of people have decent jobs, and kids have a place to go during the day.. I can think of worse things to spend money into the economy on.

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I don't think there is any relationship between money spent on schooling and results. Kids in China were learning 50 to a one room schoolhouse, sitting on the floor with chalkboards. And they seem to have learned more than American school kids on average.

SNIP

Any link to back up the "seem"?

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Linky http://www.cato-at-liberty.org/2009/07/10/...inancial-knees/

So how much are we wasting on education services?

This is ideological nonsense spouted by right-wing rent-a-pundits. The article fails to mention the fact that the foreign-born population of the state of California has gone from about 10% in 1970 to over 30% now. Try teaching a classroom full of kids who don't speak the same language as the teacher (or each other) and see what happens to the educational achievement statistics. The Cato Institute are nothing but paid shills whose only interest is cutting taxes for the richest Americans, i.e. the people who are paying to produce this propaganda. The fact that all this money is going to teach immigrant's children how to speak English is another question, but the argument this guy is raising is completely off the track.

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They actually have some of the best schools in the world as well as some of the worst, driven by the fact that local property taxes directly fund local schools, My friends childrens school in Montecito is one of the best free schools you could ever hope to send your child, they get funding of well over $20,000 per pupil, which is paid from local residents taxes, not so far away in LA slum areas get funding of $4000 per pupil , this is like the UK system of buying a house in a good catchment area on steroids as the schools in the good areas are so much better that its impossible for the poor area schools to compete on any level...

This is as it should be. The more you contribute to society in the form of taxes, the more you should get out in terms of decent tax-funded services.

I'll bet the kids in the richer areas have less discipline problems and are generally better behaved as well.

Because they are just better people, bred from better people.

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