Saturday, May 07, 2005

One Man's Way to Better Schools

Interesting take on schools by George Will.

The idea, which will face its first referendum in Arizona, is to require that 65 percent of every school district's education operational budget be spent on classroom instruction. On, that is, teachers and pupils, not bureaucracy
Wait, we currently spend more than 35% on school bureaucracy? Isn't a good ratio for a non-profit about 10% of spending goes to administration? Over 1/3 of school money is going to administration? That seems really high.
Nationally, 61.5 percent of education operational budgets reach the classrooms. Why make a fuss about 3.5 percent? Because it amounts to $13 billion. Only four states (Utah, Tennessee, New York, Maine) spend at least 65 percent of their budgets in classrooms. Fifteen states spend less than 60 percent. The worst jurisdiction -- Washington, D.C., of course -- spends less than 50 percent.
Wow, those are crazy numbers. In Washington DC over 1/2 of all school money goes to administration. Wow.
Much of the reallocated money under the 65 percent requirement would go for better pay for teachers, which is wiser than just adding more teachers. Chester Finn, senior fellow at the Hoover Institution, notes that, while the number of pupils grew 50 percent in the past half-century, the number of teachers grew almost 300 percent. But if the number of teachers had grown apace with enrollments, and school budgets had risen as they have, teachers' salaries today would average nearly $100,000 instead of less than half that.
Interesting point. Surprising that in the last 50 years pupils grew by 50% and teachers by 300% and yet it sure seems like class sizes have gotten bigger. Don't know how to reconcile that.
Under the 65 percent rule, Arizona, which spends 56.8 percent in classrooms, could use its $451 million transfer to classrooms to buy 1.5 million computers or to hire 11,275 teachers. California (61.7 percent) could use its $1.5 billion transfer to buy 5 million computers or to hire 37,500 teachers. Illinois (59.5 percent) would transfer $906 million to classrooms (3 million computers or 22,650 new teachers).
I don't know enough about education to know if this 65% rule is a good thing or not, but it sure strikes me that 35% is a ton to spend on overhead.


No comments:

Post a Comment

Note: Only a member of this blog may post a comment.