Thursday, June 28, 2012

$29,409 Per Student Cost of D.C. Public Schools Puts Them In Elite Group, But Without the Results

Judging by the expenditures per student of almost $30,000 (Andrew Coulson at Cato crunches the numbers), the "pricy" District of Columbia public schools are among the most elite of all of the D.C.-area schools, see the chart above.  The $29,409 per-student educational price tag for D.C. schools is just slightly below two of the area's most prestigious private schools - Georgetown Prep ($29,625), founded in 1789 as the nation's oldest Jesuit school, and Sidwell Friends School ($33,000), the "school of choice" for President Obama's daughters.  It's also almost twice as expensive as Bethesda-based St. John's College High School ($15,950) and almost three times as expensive as D.C.'s Archbishop Carroll ($10,500).

However, judging by the graduation rate of D.C.'s public high schools of only 58.6% for the Class of 2011 (compared to the national average of 75.5% for public schools), District taxpayers might wonder why they're getting such poor results from such an elite level of spending.  For every 100 students who graduated from D.C. high schools in 2011, there were 71 of their freshman classmates who either dropped out or didn't graduate on time.  At one of D.C.'s worst-performing high schools - Cardozo Senior High - fewer than 40% of its students graduated in 2011, which means that for every 100 students who graduated, there were 154 of their freshman classmates who did not graduate.  

It wouldn't be so troubling that the cost to educate students in D.C. school is comparable to the tuition of some of the most elite, D.C.-area private-schools, and 2-3 times the tuition of some of the area's private Catholic high schools, if the graduation rates at D.C. public schools weren't so miserably low.  But when public school spending is so high in the District of Columbia (more than total state spending in both North Dakota and South Dakota), and the results are so miserable, you would think there would be more political support for alternative approaches like the "D.C. Opportunity Scholarship Program," which President Obama and many Democrats oppose.  Obama tried to kill the program by de-funding it, but the program was rescued by Republicans John Boehner and Joe Lieberman. Unfortunately, the president and Democrats are "more interested in doing right by teachers unions than doing right by ghetto kids confined to failing schools," as Jason Riley pointed out in the WSJ

Bottom Line: Russ Roberts reminds us that the most costly goods and services are often the ones that politicians decide should be "free," like education, health care and housing.  The $29,409 per-pupil cost for "free" public education in D.C. is a perfect example, and the future trend seems clear: spending on public schools will continue to increase and the academic results will continue to decline.  


At 6/28/2012 8:45 AM, Blogger robert said...

waiting for: "imagine how poorly they'd perform with 20k / student!"

At 6/28/2012 8:51 AM, Blogger Bruce Hall said...

An analysis of Michigan high school spending and results from yesterday:

Spending For Education And Results Of That Spending

At 6/28/2012 8:53 AM, Blogger Krishnan said...

"Wait, wait - public schools educate ANYONE who wants an education, not just the elites" (So, why are your expenses so high?)

"We have to educate special needs children" (And it costs this much? Private companies/businesses can do a far better job for far less)

"We care about the children while those private money grubbers care about money" (And yet the private schools do a better job of educating and graduating?)

"Education is important and we must spend whatever it takes to educate" (So, educate and not spend money on a jobs programs for teachers who you cannot fire - unless perhaps they are convicted of capital murder)

(It will always be about more money - Even as quality goes down, demand for money goes up - and oh yes, this has seeped upward to many colleges and universities also)

At 6/28/2012 9:12 AM, Blogger Its GSATT said...

I'm from the Walled Lake schools in Mi, which would be classified in the Bloomfield hills sector of Bruce's linked graph. I coldnt name a single person that failed. You literally have to try to not graduate.

The high spending is because of teachers unions and the flawed "pucblic funding ideologue", However the graduation rate is solely the result of the values, or lack there of, instilled in the kid by their inept parents.

You can lead a horse to water but you cant make them drink.

Teachers should be allowed to use those big ass rulers again. I'm not kidding.

At 6/28/2012 9:26 AM, Blogger Its GSATT said...

And if you look at Bruce's link,
the ares of flint, pontiac, and detroit look almost identical to one another. They're merely miniature versions of Detroit. Places I avoided. I dont blame the teachers for sucking down there, those 40-50% that do not graduate in those areas never once gave a damn about it.

And i just looked at that graph again, Highland park is 6 miles from downtown Detroit. Why is it counted seperate from Detroit????? Oh, because it would make Detroit look worse than Pontiac and Flint if its crummy grad rate was factored in.... DURRRRR. That my friends is how our government operates. Well played Detroit, well played.

At 6/28/2012 10:23 AM, Blogger Buddy R Pacifico said...

Teachers in D.C. public schools can now get fired for not increasing standardized test scores.

How do D.C. teachers get better test scores from their students?

There is speculation that stafferasures may get the correct answers to raise scores -- and keep that teaching job in D.C.

At 6/28/2012 12:35 PM, Blogger Pascvaks said...

I don't think I can afford anymore FREE anything anymore. Not unless you'z rich folks chip in and pick up my share of the burden. You'z don't mind doing that do you? You'z don't mind if I just kind'a slip back, sit down, and pretend everything's gonn'a be OK forever? Right? You'z do kind'a owe me y'know. My Great Grandpa on my Daddy's side was mistreated by the English and moved here and couldn't find any of those streets of gold that the rest of ya's kinfolk found. Fair's fair right? Wasn't his fault, right? No reason I should have to keep working either, right? A College Professor said I didn't have to, cause it wasn't fair what your Grandpa's did to my Grandpa, right? And now the Supreme's say Congress can do anything they want too, right? Y'hep, think I'll just quit everything, sit down, have you'z support me, and Vote a couple times for a Dimocrap. I can read the tea leaves, I know the party's over, I know if I don't get my share now that there won't be any, right? Adios Guys! Thanks for the Welfare Checks and Free Healthcare! Oh, and the expensive education for my 29 kids, 14 wives, and illegal in-law-family members from South of that Holy Border down there! You'z guys are great!

At 6/28/2012 8:43 PM, Blogger Benjamin Cole said...

Every public bureaucracy, from the Department of Defense to DC public schools to the Los Angeles Police Department, need to be sunsetted every 20 years.

I wish the right-wing would look at agriculture, police, fire and defense agencies with the same gimlet eye to properly use to look ay schools and welfare.

But gee, that would be balanced, would it not?

At 7/01/2012 11:40 AM, Blogger Doug said...

Government: the service provider who forces customers to pay a premium for an inferior product because they're a monopoly.


Post a Comment

<< Home