Sunday, February 21, 2010

More on Public School Spending: D.C. vs. U.S.A.

Nationally, inflation-adjusted public school spending per pupil has more than doubled since the late 1960s (see graph above, data here).

Since the late 1950s, real spending per pupil in D.C. has grown much faster than the national average, having increased by 6.6 times while the national average increased only four times (see chart below, data
here).


21 Comments:

At 2/21/2010 4:51 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Interesting x axis in your second chart: the tick lines are at

1959, 1969, 1979, 1989, (ten year increments) and then change to 1997, 1998, 1999, 2000, 2001, etc.

Also looks like DC spending actually declined from 2000 to 2004-5 and then increased, and that national continued to increase throughout the period.

Also, since you are comparing states to DC, do you have city spending changes...NYC, Houston, etc. Cities are different than states, or don't you think so?

 
At 2/21/2010 5:06 PM, Blogger DJ Drive said...

It would be interesting to see the correlation between the academic performance of pupil in public schools in DC with the national average.

I mean, was it worth it to (over)spend 1.65 times the national average?

 
At 2/21/2010 5:18 PM, Blogger Bill said...

All of the good stats show no correlation between spending and academic achievement. In fact, in NYC, students in the Catholic schools did much better, on much less, than the public school kids did despite receiving more in expenditures with similar socio-economic backgrounds. It all comes down to parental involvement and teaching the basics.

 
At 2/21/2010 5:54 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

As School Exit Tests Prove Tough, States Ease Standards

A law adopting statewide high school exams for graduation took effect in Pennsylvania on Saturday, with the goal of ensuring that students leaving high school are prepared for college and the workplace. But critics say the requirement has been so watered down that it is unlikely to have major impact.

The situation in Pennsylvania mirrors what has happened in many of the 26 states that have adopted high school exit exams. As deadlines approached for schools to start making passage of the exams a requirement for graduation, and practice tests indicated that large numbers of students would fail, many states softened standards, delayed the requirement or added alternative paths to a diploma.

People who have studied the exams, which affect two-thirds of the nation’s public school students, say they often fall short of officials’ ambitious goals.

“The real pattern in states has been that the standards are lowered so much that the exams end up not benefiting students who pass them while still hurting the students who fail them,” said John Robert Warren, an expert on exit exams and a professor of sociology at the University of Minnesota-Twin Cities.

[...]

In 2008, state officials in Alabama, Arizona and Washington delayed the start of the exit exam requirement and lowered standards after seeing that many students, including a disproportionate number of minorities, would fail the tests.

[...]

Despite criticism of exit exams, some experts say that schools have benefited from them. Surveys indicate that teachers say the tests have brought clearer guidelines on curriculum, which they find helpful. And after the exam grades begin to count, students often start taking them more seriously, which causes passage rates to increase, Mr. Jennings said.

New York Times

 
At 2/21/2010 6:01 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

The Weekly was able to obtain the names of all seven teachers targeted for firing, and the names of the 32 who received big settlements of $40,000 to $195,000, and the data showing the size of the group forced into retraining — 466 teachers during the past three years — only after extensive efforts. Nor is the public allowed to see student test scores by classroom — closely guarded and potentially explosive data. Education experts say the secret classroom data shows how bad teachers significantly harm children, producing students with markedly lower test scores as compared to other classrooms on the same hallway.

LA Weekly

The premise underlying the policies favoured by the teachers’ unions, which govern so much of the relationship between public schools and teachers, is that all teachers are uniformly effective. Once we can objectively distinguish between effective and ineffective teachers, the system of uncritically granted tenure, a single salary schedule based on experience and credentials, and school placements based on seniority become untenable. The unions don’t want information about their members’ effectiveness to be available, let alone put to practical use.

City Journal

 
At 2/21/2010 6:06 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Education Spending Doubled, Stagnant Test Scores, Carpe Diem

 
At 2/21/2010 7:13 PM, Blogger Mark J. Perry said...

Anonymous: I can only graph the data that are available, and the Dept. of Education data switch from ten-year increments between 1959 to 1989 to annual increments starting in 1997. If annual data were available, I would have used it.

 
At 2/21/2010 9:37 PM, Anonymous Lyle said...

One needs to modify the graph by the level of services provided by the schools. There was no significant support provided for the severely disabled by the schools in 1959 they went to state homes. Thats a good bit of the expenditure, second when I had a teacher that was killed in 1962 (I had him the year before) there were no grief counselors provided, also about 1 counselor for 400 students in the high school. There were not a lot of sports for girls, etc. All of these things cost money and add to the total. A lot of the counseling function was at the time assumed to be provided by the local clergy.
At that time there was no need for ESL because in MI there were no Latinos at the time as well as few immigrants as the immigrant wave had been 15 years ago, and that was handled by the sink or swim method i.e. go to school in english and learn stupid.
So we need to normalize to normal classroom costs and cut out the additional services to make a comparison.

Recall that back then people with disabilities were essentially hidden away.

 
At 2/21/2010 11:02 PM, Blogger ruddyturnstone said...

"It all comes down to parental involvement and teaching the basics."

I agree with the first part. As to the second part, at least since the trend towards standardized testing started, most schools do teach the basics.

Some other considerations are self selection. To go to a Catholic high school in New York City, you do need an involved parent (the parents must sign a "contract" promising to monitor the homework, attendance, etc, of their child). But you also need a parents who care enough about their kid's education that they will pay for it, and not a small amount either. That also means that the really, really poor can't go at all (except for a few on scholarships).

Also, no kid has a "right" to go to a Catholic high school. The schools are very selective. You have to be a good student, and well disciplined to get in. Also, they can kick you out too, pretty much whenever they want to.

Obviously, this is very different from the public high schools. They, by law, have to take all comers. They have to take bad, undisciplined students. They have to abide by legalistic rules governing suspensions and expulsions. They can't make the parents of their students promise to do squat. They have to take the very poor students who are much more likely to be bad students and discipline problems.

And all of this has been pointed out over and over again. Yet the same one to one comparisons are made as if these differences didn't exist at all.

Finally, although the budgets of Catholic schools are lower, these schools also rely to an enormous exent of voluntary provision of goods and services by the parents and others. Most parents of kids in Catholic schools will tell you there is an endless round of appeals for money and volunteers. Public schools, again, whose parents of students may or may not be motivated, can't compete in this regard.

I say this as someone who has a lot of respect for Catholic schools. I live right next door to one of the best Catholic High Schools in a large, Eastern city. The students are unfailingly polite, don't litter, don't swear, are dressed properly and never create any "issues." Still, I realize that this is only partly the result of the Catholic education, and also partly because they only take "good" kids from "good" families to begin with.

 
At 2/22/2010 3:36 AM, Anonymous Mr Econotarian said...

In Washington, D.C., 3% of public school enrollment (as of 2004) are placed into private schools on basis of disability, representing 15 percent of the school district’s budget. This is much higher than most other school districts.

 
At 2/22/2010 7:40 AM, Anonymous geoih said...

Quote from ruddyturnstone: "Obviously, this is very different from the public high schools. They, by law, have to take all comers."

Who made the law that says public schools have to take all comers? The same people who said everybody has to pay for the public schools. You can't make school compulsory, then tax everybody to pay for, and then complain that you have to accept everybody.

Perhaps next you will complain about the huge volume of mail at the post office.

 
At 2/22/2010 10:05 PM, Blogger ruddyturnstone said...

"Who made the law that says public schools have to take all comers? The same people who said everybody has to pay for the public schools. You can't make school compulsory, then tax everybody to pay for, and then complain that you have to accept everybody."

Huh? The issue is the comparison of public schools and private schools. Without the "laws" you are talking about, there would be no public schools. And many, many children would go without education at all. OK, I suppose, you would be fine with that. But that really has nothing to do with the comparison, does it?

Private schools cherry pick their students, so it is no big surprize that their studens do better. All of what you said really has no bearing on that. Harvard can cherry pick its students, and they do better than the students at your average public college, but that, by itself, doesn't mean the average college stinks. Or that it is fair or meaningful to compare it to Harvard.

"Perhaps next you will complain about the huge volume of mail at the post office."

Um, actually, that isn't so far off. The post office has to take all comers, it can't cherry pick the kind of business it wants like Fed Ex. And that has an effect on its performance.

In general, it is usually not an apples to apples comparison when one is talking about private and public providers of anything. Because the private provider is free to cater to whatever niche it wants to (to the more profitable sectors of the market, to the "better" kids and parents, etc.), while the public one has to deal with the whole thing. Again, you can argue that no public agency SHOULD deal with the whole thing, but, once that agency is established (ie once your argument loses in the legislature) it does not make sense to compare that agency with a private provider without considering these difference.

 
At 2/23/2010 1:33 AM, Blogger nates said...

Yes ruddy, we know about selection bias. That is why the DC study was done.

All students were allowed to apply for the vouchers, but only 1/3 got them (randomly chosen). The other 2/3 continued at their public schools. 3 years later the kids with vouchers were more than a grade level ahead of their self selected peers who stayed in public schools.

Upon hearing about this, Obama and Democrats, conspired to squash the program and absolve all knowledge of it ever happening.

 
At 2/23/2010 2:51 AM, Blogger ruddyturnstone said...

The study that I see quoted showed a reading improvment of four months, not "more than a grade level," and no improvement at all in math:

http://www.scrippsnews.com/node/42418

"While they were no better at math, voucher recipients read 3.7 months ahead of non-voucher students."

And it could be that the parents whose kids got selected put more effort into monitoring and encouraging their kids than those who didn't.

And, at that, an earlier study showed no statistically signficant effect at all:

http://www.heritage.org/research/education/wm1965.cfm

"The results indicate that students who received vouchers realized higher academic achievement than students who were not awarded a voucher, though the differences between both groups of students were not statistically significant."

And a review of the latter study questioned even the significance of its results:

http://epicpolicy.org/files/TTR-Carnoy-US-IES-DCVoucher.pdf

Also, I was discussing the differences between Catholic schools and public schools. Not voucher schools and public schools. Catholic schools most certainly do have the advantage of self selection over public schools. Also, I don't know the policies of the voucher schools, (perhaps they also have the right to expel students more easily than the regular public schools), but the above-linked review did contend that many of the students in the study has switched schools multiple times.

Also, the same the review noted that most of the improvement in the voucher schools was due to improvment shown by students who were already achieving relatively highly. In other words, it wasn't as if "bad students" were suddenly turned into "good students" by three years of voucher school attendance. Nor was any improvement shown among students who transferred from "failing" public schools to the voucher schools. Perhaps the improvements were the result of bright children attending a school that did not have to deal with bad students. Undert this view, the bright non lottery winning students at the regular schools are being held back b/c so much time and effort has to be given to the bad students, and the work has to be "dumbed down" for their benefit.

Personally, I would have no problem with voucher schools. But, if they are going to replace public schools, then they are going to have to do what public schools do, namely, deal with the "bad" and trouble making students. Of, one could level the playing field by granting public schools the same kind of latitude that private schools have in suspending and expelling such students.

If not,it's still not an apple to apple comparison. And it is only one, isolated study that you are relying on.

 
At 2/23/2010 7:17 AM, Anonymous geoih said...

Quote from ruddyturnstone: "Without the "laws" you are talking about, there would be no public schools. And many, many children would go without education at all."

So, you think the only reason parents send their kids to school is because there is a law requiring it? Wow, you have an awfully low opinion of you fellow man.

Maybe we should have laws deciding who is even allowed to have children. Then we can keep those reject kids from being born and clogging up the public schools.

It's a good thing we have enlightened people like you to dictate what is best for all of us (and then come up with lame excuses when it doesn't work).

 
At 2/23/2010 1:11 PM, Blogger OBloodyHell said...

> If annual data were available, I would have used it.

Doc, one thing that might be good would be to plot the thing out with the same scale through the whole period, then mark the actual data points, with the obvious points at the end being denser. I can't argue that it might be slightly more intellectually honest, though likely of zero relevance. One of those cases where any possible confusion or complaint is best avoided.

 
At 2/23/2010 1:35 PM, Blogger OBloodyHell said...

> And all of this has been pointed out over and over again. Yet the same one to one comparisons are made as if these differences didn't exist at all.

It's not ignored, it's just recognized as blatant bullshit excuses. This fact has been demonstrated time and again, every time someone brings these idiot whines up.

I have an aunt in the public school system --

a) she's a "yellow dog democrat"
b) she's an idiot supporter of all this union crap
c) she's got a masters in education
d) she's one of the best 5th grade teachers in her county with a 30 year history, often teaching the children of former students.

Despite this, if you listen carefully to the stories she tells, an intelligent person can hear exactly what the problems are --

a) FAR too much money spent on "administrators",

b) too little attention to "problem kids" (i.e., segregating them from the general populace and dealing differently with them, so as to prevent them from interfering with the students who AREN'T a problem),

c) mindlessly stupid mandates that have nothing to do with actually teaching kids JACK.

There are other things, too, but those are just the flat out obvious ones.

In my county, they sent a teacher to China for two weeks, an "investigatory mission", at a cost of about $10k. There was no reason to do it, they don't have any Chinese language program in this county -- it was a "paid vacation" perk for the teacher using funds not actually allocated for that purpose.

My best friend is also a teacher in high school, and has plenty of interesting tales of his own about stupid policies and idiotic counter-effective programs.

==========

But the REAL fact is, DC had a school program that was WORKING.

Get that? IT WORKED.

The parents liked it, the students liked it, and it was getting results.

So what happened? Obama, friend of the people, CANCELED IT. Killed it D - E -A - D, *dead*.

Because the #$^#$^#^%$&$&$&#$^$%&$&$&$&$%^$%^%$&^%$^$%^%$^$ ^$&$^&*%*%$%^%$&%$*^%*%^*$&^#%&$&^%*%(^*%&$%&%$*& %%*&$%$^%^%%(%&(%(& TEACHERS UNIONS hated it.

It showed what a massive bunch of incompetent s***heels they are.

Allow me to disband every #$^#$^ teachers union in America, void their contracts, and I'll improve the school system by 30% in one single year. Five years down the road, I'll have graduation rates and literacy rates up by 30-50%

 
At 2/23/2010 2:02 PM, Blogger OBloodyHell said...

> And many, many children would go without education at all.

As opposed to the education they are getting, which is how not to read, how not to do math, how not to think critically about anything.


But they do leave with wonderful self esteem!

Really, get your cranium out of your rectum:

The current system cheats kids, parents, *and* taxpayers.

If anyone in the teacher's union leadership gave a rat's ass, they'd care about what they are doing to students, but not a single one of them gives a crap.

They are self-serving PoSes who have no business being involved in education at all. Most of them deserve to be lined up against a wall and SHOT.

I think about 50-75% of teachers actually do care about the job they do, but they listen mindlessly to their union leaders and vote exactly as they are told.

In short, they are the model citizens for the citizenry they are creating.

Stupid, thoughtless, and obedient.

And just like the UAW, the teacher's unions are going to utterly and completely destroy the "industry" they are connected to.

> One could level the playing field by granting public schools the same kind of latitude that private schools have in suspending and expelling such students.

That's what "school choice" is about you nit. And it's been fought at EVERY TURN by the unions.

Even IF you have a mandate that there must be some schools in an area which will take any student, that still allows you to segregate the problem kids (10%) AWAY from the non-problem kids (90%) and deal with them as needed -- First off, you can actually provide specialists at the "PK" schools with skills in dealing with the PKs. Second off, you can actually spend more money at those schools to better effect, by either reducing class size or by hiring more highly trained teachers with a wider versatility in their skills, or both. Thirdly, you allow any student who wants to succeed a better chance of doing so without being distracted by the ones who just won't learn.

The problem isn't "not enough money". The problem is, "it's run by the government".

You want to grasp how bad that idea is, realize that the USPS in the not too distant past claimed that they needed to "raise their rates" because they were processing more mail. ONLY a government agency would actually be able to make the claim that they were experiencing NO economies of scale.

If it's run by the government, it's run by incompetents.

The number of exceptions to that rule can be counted on one hand.

Get education out of the hands of incompetents.

===================================
First, God made idiots... This was for practice. Then he made school boards.
- Mark Twain

 
At 2/23/2010 7:49 PM, Blogger ruddyturnstone said...

"So, you think the only reason parents send their kids to school is because there is a law requiring it?"

Um, that is the only reasoj SOME parents send their kids to school. And, if it weren't provided by the government at no charge, even more parents would not educat their kids. Some couldn't afford it. And some could, but wouldn't do it anyway. How is that even open to question?

 
At 2/23/2010 8:06 PM, Blogger ruddyturnstone said...

"I have an aunt in the public school system..."

You have an anecdote. If not an apocryphal story.

"But the REAL fact is, DC had a school program that was WORKING."

One study showed it was marginally effective. See above.

"That's what 'school choice' is about you nit."

No it isn't. Unless the voucher schools have to abide by the same rules regarding selection of students, suspension and expulsion that public schools do. And I have seen no evidence that they do. They "cherry pick" the same way private schools do.

Show me a privately run school anywhere that must take all the children from an attendance area served by a "failing" public school. And that makes a significant improvement. Then you are talking apples and apples.

Moreover, so-called "magnet" public schools which have the same powers as private and voucher schools over selection, suspension and expulsion produce the same results. The Bronx High School of Science does just fine. But it doesn't have to deal with problem or slow students.

Anyway, I already said I had no problem with voucher schools. I am not wedded to public schools or teacher unions. Give every parent a voucher and let them choose the school for their children. OK by me. Or, let all public schools act like the magnet schools. Either way, we must deal with the "bad" students. Or not. But, as it is, only the public schools do, and that's the main reason they underperform.

"Even IF you have a mandate that there must be some schools in an area which will take any student, that still allows you to segregate the problem kids (10%) AWAY from the non-problem kids (90%) and deal with them as needed..."

If you did that, my bet is that folks like you would still compare the public school that must deal with all the bad kids and nothing but the bad kids on a one-to-one basis with the other school, which only has good kids. And then say, "See, look at what a bad job the public school does!"

Finally, there is no need for personal invective and insults.

 
At 2/24/2010 7:22 AM, Anonymous geoih said...

Quote from ruddyturnstone: "Um, that is the only reasoj SOME parents send their kids to school. And, if it weren't provided by the government at no charge, even more parents would not educat their kids. Some couldn't afford it. And some could, but wouldn't do it anyway. How is that even open to question?"

It's a question because liberty is the basic premise of western society. Your position is that people cannot be trusted with liberty. They need a paternal state to make them do what is right through the coercive use of force.

If parents can be rightly forced to raise their children in a way that the state deems right, then why not simply control who has children in the first place?

Only right thinking people should be allowed to even have children. Then the raising of those children should be strictly controlled by the state. How else can you expect to have right thinking citizens?

 

Post a Comment

Links to this post:

Create a Link

<< Home