Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Not quite

So, there's this Tumblr blog floating around out there called Shit My Students Write.  Its About sentence: "Evidence of the true cost of educational funding cuts."

'Cause, you know, all these cuts in education have been just killing our kids.  Only problem?  They're not happening.  On the contrary, spending on education has been steadily rising, from $304.93B in 1990 to $858.85B in 2008 (the last year with an actual figure).  To put it another way, twenty years ago educational spending was 5.25% of our GDP; that rose to 6.11% in '08.  Not a huge increase percentage-wise, granted, but still NOT A CUT.

Here we have it in graph form:

There was a tiny dip in FY2009, but keep in mind that's just an estimate at this point.

Here's that same info in table format:

Here is my source for the info; that site has its own sources linked.

So--and I realize this will be absolutely shocking to my readers--the person behind this blog doesn't make much of a case against cutting spending on education.  Full disclosure: I'm not saying this reads like "Cut spending!"  I'm more in the "We are obviously not getting our money's worth" box.

In truth, when the question is one of quality, "Throw money at it!" is not often the answer.  I would propose spending on education be rearranged.  Less money on sending folks to White Privilege Conferences, more on recruiting excellent teachers (and by "excellent teachers", please note that I do not mean people who skated through college with a 2.5 GPA as an Education major and will admit to not liking to read) would probably be a good start.

Also, it is worth noting that when spending cuts do happen, teachers are always the first to be put on the chopping block.  Why more of them are not up in arms about this is beyond me.  My  high school had four vice principals, one per grade level.  Really necessary?  Probably not.  The student population was 1800, but the number of students with any reason to see a VP was surely much smaller, and the one time I did see one (to report sexual harassment of one of my Home Ec classmates), I didn't even speak with whomever was assigned to my grade level; I spoke with a woman I knew because she was previously a French teacher at my middle school--a job she quickly returned to in order to have an actual influence on students.

Administrators are paid much more than teachers, so why fire two or three teachers instead of one vice principal?  Why pour millions of dollars into fancy buildings that don't really help kids learn?  Why keep open schools with declining enrollment simply because the parents complain about a potential closure?  I don't have an exact number for the student population of my daughters' school, but there are, at most, 65 third graders, spread across three classes, and I believe first grade is even smaller.  And there's another elementary school a few blocks up the street, definitely within walking distance for a good portion of the student body.  My girls' school is historic, so why not close the school that isn't and move them to the one that is?  This could be done with a minimal loss of teaching staff, but there would be redundancies both in administration and auxiliary staff. Not to put too fine a point on it, the janitors could clean other buildings in this city.  Reducing staffing would save money, and even more would be saved by not having upkeep/utilities for two buildings.

It is worth noting that SMSW has no means of contact.  I have two different blogs on that service, so I can tell you that the default is to have an "Ask Me Anything" button.  The person who runs this blog chose to not have to interact with the public.  Not surprising.  When your entire premise is bullshit, probably best to make it hard for folks to call you on it.

1 comment:

Suz said...

I once read a (now out of print) book called "No Bull Selling," by Hank Trisler. An excellent read if you can get your hands on it, and totally irrelevant to this subject, except for one quote: "Do they leak?"
He was discussing "good schools," and essentially said that if the school was safe and dry, his kids would get as good an education as they chose. Nice buildings and expensive administrations DO NOT educate our children. Good teachers help motivate them to educate themselves, and show them how.