Education spending = increased wealth in the nation?


From The Condition of Education 2011, Indicator 38, Education Expenditures by Country.

A country’s wealth (defined as GDP per capita) is
positively associated with expenditures per student
on education at the combined elementary/secondary
level and at the postsecondary level. For example, the
education expenditures per student (both elementary/
secondary and postsecondary) for each of the 10 OECD
countries with the highest GDP per capita in 2007 were
higher than the OECD average expenditures per student.
The expenditures per student for the 10 OECD countries
with the lowest GDP per capita were below the OECD
average at both the elementary/secondary level and at the
postsecondary level.

Per pupil spending in the U.S. is inflated in these comparisons because it includes per pupil expenditures for college.  One might make a case that this spending could be reduced and efficiency maintained were investment in elementary and secondary education increased and made more effective.

Chiefly, here we should note that spending more on education correlates with a nation’s wealth — the more a nation spend, the wealthier it is, and vice versa.  This applies in the developed nations measured by the Organization for Economic Development, anyway.

In short:  We cut education spending at our national peril.

More data on this measure here.  Other indicators, and the complete text of the Condition of Education 2011, here.

Conflict of interest statement:  My office published these reports in my time at the Office of Educational Research and Improvement; I have no affiliation with these data any  more.

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27 Responses to Education spending = increased wealth in the nation?

  1. James Kessler says:

    Baughan I got a question for you.

    Since you want to treat teachers like crap and pay them like crap then why in God’s name would any teacher but especially the good ones want to work in your local school district?

    Or does somehow that thought not enter your supposed thinking process?

    If you want to complain that your town is stuck in such poverty then focus your ire on the ones that rendered it that way. But that isn’t the teachers.

    Quit being gullible enough to fall for the scapegoat.

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  2. James Kessler says:

    The question she should be asking is how are the country’s kids going to get a quality education when you pay the teachers like crap and treat them like crap.

    Because generally people dont’ do their best job if they don’t feel they’re being paid adequately and especially if they’re being treated as nothing more then enemies and pieces of crap.

    And the teachers in your state, lady, aren’t being paid significantly more then my state. Especially not my school district which is one of the richer ones in my state. And none of the BS you’ve made up about their salaries or pensions applies in my district.

    You simply don’t have any facts on your side..and you’re simply stuck with the fact that your precious Republican party created the financial mess your state is in and then turned around and blamed a group of people who had nothing to do with it…all so they could distract people like you from the real causes of your problems.

    So because of Walker’s financial shenanigans teachers should lose their rights, their salaries and their pensions? Okay then..you don’t mind if we start stripping yours away too?

    Fair is fair isn’t it?

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  3. Ed Darrell says:

    Yeah, his language is harsh — but it’s not all fist-pumping. Mr. Kessler did offer the link to Ezra Klein’s reporting that much of Wisconsin’s “problem” was Gov. Ahab Walker’s having given away a budget surplus to businesses and monied interests. I note there is no response.

    I confess, Ms. Baughan, your view of education funding is quite at odds with our experience here in Texas. I’ve been looking to see if I could confirm any of your claims. Not yet.

    So maybe everybody could tone down the fist pumping, and deal with the issues. I doubt most, or even more than a tiny minority of teachers drive fancy cars. That’s not what I saw in Wisconsin. That’s not the reports I have from inside Wisconsin schools. And its not the case in any part of America I have found. I drive a ten-year-old Toyota — our “new” car. There are a few newer in our parking lot, but there are also a lot of older cars, some held together with bailing wire and twine, some with pinto colors that come from replacing damaged body pieces with parts from the salvage yard.

    From everything I’ve seen, your claims are almost pure hooey.

    Here in Texas we don’t get full value for our teacher union dues, either. That’s because the state legislature years ago did what Walker is doing in Wisconsin — stripping the rights of teachers out of the law so there is no recourse for tyrannical and foolish management of the schools, no rights for teachers to demand due process, no rights to demand school districts follow the laws to educate handicapped kids, or any kid.

    Teachers do not go into teaching to get rich. Teachers teach because they like kids, and because they love learning, and they love kids learning. If we pause for a moment to think about who should be the greatest force for good in improving education, we realize it must be teachers, both because they are on the front lines, and because they teach because they love the job, not for money.

    And there you are, Ms. Baughan, shooting at teachers from behind the lines.

    I don’t understand your views at all.

    Like

  4. baughan says:

    How typical of your kind… to resort to childish name calling and fist pumping tantrums when presented with factual information disputing your fairy tale beliefs and party line propaganda. Enough said.

    Like

  5. James Kessler says:

    So before Walker took office Wisconsin had a near 150 million dollar budget SURPLUS but suddenly right after he takes office it has a magical budget deficit and you want to claim he had nothing to do with creating said deficit? If you have a budget surplus and you cut taxes you’re going to erase that budget surplus. Cutting taxes on the rich in no way shape or form brings more revenue into government, we’ve had the last 30+ years to figure that one out.

    The deficit in your state, Baughan, was caused by your governor cutting taxes to the rich and to businesses and then turning around and blaming the resulting deficit on a group of people who had nothing to do with it. And instead of being a rational thinking adult you sit there and act like a child believing everything you’re spoonfed so you end up attacking the people who had nothing to do with the problem, did not send your town into poverty instead of turning your attention to the people who actually did cause your state’s and your town’s problems.

    Hence why I keep calling you a child. When you start acting like an adult and start thinking for yourself then I’ll start treating you like one. Until then you’re nothing but a delusioned mealy mouthed 5 year old.

    So again..quit blaming the wrong people, it’s not going to get you anywhere.

    Like

  6. James Kessler says:

    Well lets see you argue against the Wisconsin Finance Bureau as quoted here:

    http://voices.washingtonpost.com/ezra-klein/2011/02/unions_arent_to_blame_for_wisc.html

    In fact, it particularly doesn’t work for what Walker is attempting in Wisconsin. The Badger State was actually in pretty good shape. It was supposed to end this budget cycle with about $120 million in the bank. Instead, it’s facing a deficit. Why? I’ll let the state’s official fiscal scorekeeper explain (pdf):

    More than half of the lower estimate ($117.2 million) is due to the impact of Special Session Senate Bill 2 (health savings accounts), Assembly Bill 3 (tax deductions/credits for relocated businesses), and Assembly Bill 7 (tax exclusion for new employees).

    In English: The governor called a special session of the legislature and signed two business tax breaks and a conservative health-care policy experiment that lowers overall tax revenues (among other things). The new legislation was not offset, and it helped turn a surplus into a deficit [see update at end of post]. As Brian Beutler writes, “public workers are being asked to pick up the tab for this agenda.”

    But even that’s not the full story here. Public employees aren’t being asked to make a one-time payment into the state’s coffers. Rather, Walker is proposing to sharply curtail their right to bargain collectively. A cyclical downturn that isn’t their fault, plus an unexpected reversal in Wisconsin’s budget picture that wasn’t their doing, is being used to permanently end their ability to sit across the table from their employer and negotiate what their health insurance should look like.

    That’s how you keep a crisis from going to waste: You take a complicated problem that requires the apparent need for bold action and use it to achieve a longtime ideological objective. In this case, permanently weakening public-employee unions, a group much-loathed by Republicans in general and by the Republican legislators who have to battle them in elections in particular. And note that not all public-employee unions are covered by Walker’s proposal: the more conservative public-safety unions — notably police and firefighters, many of whom endorsed Walker — are exempt.

    If you read Walker’s State of the State address, you can watch him hide the ball on what he’s doing. “Our upcoming budget is built on the premise that we must right size our government,” he said. “That means reforming public employee benefits — as well as reforming entitlement programs and reforming the state’s relationship with local governments.” Not a word on his actual proposal, which is to end collective bargaining for benefits.

    If all Walker was doing was reforming public employee benefits, I’d have little problem with it. There’s too much deferred compensation in public employee packages, and though the blame for that structure lies partially with the government officials and state residents who wanted to pay later for services now, it’s true that situations change and unsustainable commitments require reforms. But that’s not what Walker is doing. He’s attacking the right to bargain collectively — which is to say, he’s attacking the very foundation of labor unions, and of worker power — and using an economic crisis unions didn’t cause, and a budget reversal that Walker himself helped create, to justify it.

    And it’s not as if public employees aren’t hurting. In the Wisconsin budget report I quoted earlier, the state’s fiscal bureau goes on to survey the state of the economy. “Going forward, Global Insight expects private sector payrolls to grow by 2.1 million in 2011, 2.6 million in 2012, and 2.5 million in 2013. Projected cutbacks in the number of public sector employees, however, are expected to partially offset those private sector gains. In 2010, the number of state and local government employees fell by an estimated 208,000 positions. In 2011, those cutbacks are expected to total an additional 150,000 positions.” In other words, private jobs are coming back, but state and local jobs are still being lost. Public-employee unions are on the mat. Walker is trying to make sure they don’t get back up.

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  7. baughan says:

    Ed Darrell: P.S — Early retirement, say between 50 and 55, is one of the keys to future economic development of our nation. Retire the old people early, let younger people who really need the job get it, and let them contribute to the social safety nets.

    Baughan: Actually, 50-55 is the prime of life. There’s something to be said for experience and wisdom – and many of our teachers (and administrators) who fall into this age bracket are our very best.

    I agree, young people do need jobs. But the university system also bears some responsibility for continuing to train teachers (or any other profession) when the market is already saturated. We have seen as many as 50 applications for one teaching position, many of which are unemployed.

    Cost-wise, early retirement adds to our structural deficit because it increases our number of employees. Rarely do we hire a fresh out of college teacher at $36,000, but instead, one with some teaching experience and often additional degrees – which increase their starting salary. Our average starting salary over the past few years has been $47,000. Here’s a cost comparison: early retiree = $30,000 + new teacher $47,000 + benefits $33,000 = $110,000. Within the seven years before early retirees reach Medicare age, that new teacher’s salary can increase to over the $50,000 mark. Teachers (and administrators) only need to be employed ten years to qualify for early retirement, compounding our financial issues.

    As volatile as the stock market has been the past few years, more people will have no choice but to work well into their 70s, if they can ever afford to retire. I don’t expect to be able to “retire”. Generally speaking, an increase in private sector job opportunities is the only solution to our economic problems.

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  8. baughan says:

    Kessler: “I live in Minnesota so yeah I do know Wisconsin’s situation..that and the fact that I did the research. There was no budget deficit until Walker got into the Governor’s mansion. There was no budget deficit until he cut taxes on the rich. And because teachers are supposedly the richest people in your poverty stricken town your problem is with them and not the people who have rendered your town into poverty? You are attacking the wrong group because they did not make your town impoverished.”
    +++
    Baughan: Sorry, but that won’t fly. The poverty, unemployment, foreclosures and bankruptcies our community is experiencing has been an ongoing issue since 2008, when Doyle was in the Governor’s mansion and both the Assembly and Senate in Wisconsin were controlled by his party. One reason why Wisconsin has been struggling, economically, is due to being among the states with the highest tax burden… and your solution is higher taxes?

    As a percent of personal income, property taxes, which are how we fund schools, puts us the 7th highest in the nation.

    http://badgerstat.org/2011/tax-rankings/

    Gov Doyle admitted to a $5.4 billion deficit in his 2009 State of the State speech, and said we would have to make sacrifices. During his term as governor, school funding saw continued cuts.

    http://www.jsonline.com/news/statepolitics/38571012.html

    +++
    Kessler: Then you should focus your attention on the people that created that situation, little one, instead of the teachers which had nothing to do with it. Because cutting the teachers salaries and pensions isn’t going to magically lift your town out of poverty or stop any foreclosures. Stop distracting yourself with a fake problem so you don’t have to face the real problem.

    Here is a little evidence for you:

    http://www.aft.org/pdfs/teachers/salary/SalarySurvey-WI.pdf

    +++
    Baughan: I’ve never said we should cut any teachers’ salaries or their pensions. In fact, our teachers and administrators are very well paid, and they deserve it. Changes to rein in insurance costs and trimming waste from the budget is a sensible solution and without negatively impacting school employees… or children’s education. It is reasonable to expect school employees to pay their fair share of their own health care premium and retirement. Most people in our community pay 50% of their health insurance premium and 80% of their retirement, if they even have any benefits.

    Your link is bogus. Starting salary for teachers fresh out of college in our town is $36,000, top salary is about $75,000, with most at the upper end of the scale due to longevity. Our average teacher salary is $58,000. Fringes cost the district $33,000 per person. Administrators start at $100,000 – just salary. To put that into perspective, Wisconsin State Legislators are paid just $49,000. Governor Walker and our Supreme Court Justices make less than our Superintendent.
    +++
    Kessler: Of course you’ll sit there and claim it’s biased because you don’t want to deal with any facts that fit your preconceived narrative but the facts are still the same.
    +++
    Baughan: Obviously, you’ve done no research other than to see what the union claims.

    FYI… many, MANY of our teachers, custodians and support staff are grateful to Gov Walker and the Legislature – and do NOT support the recall effort. They are actually looking forward to NOT having their union dues automatically taken out of their salaries and paid to the union bosses because they say they receive no value from the union in exchange for the $$$$.

    I would be wary of blindly believing what the union bosses may claim about our state because they only interested in keeping their own power, six-figure salaries and golden parachutes.

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  9. James Kessler says:

    Child wrote:
    The discussion isn’t about CEO golden parachutes, but the golden parachutes for school administrators and teachers in some districts where weak school boards have bowed to their every demand. So how does paying $200,000 per early retiree to provide 100% of their insurance coverage until the age of Medicare qualification (and they still have insurance coverage along with a retirement paying 90% of their salary) benefit the students?

    Teachers and administrators are not losing a dime of their salaries. They can still afford their Audis or BMWs and vacations to Tahiti, Egypt, Peru or South Africa. No one is being paid “crap” or being treated like “crap”.

    School administrators and teachers are the wealthiest people in our poverty-stricken town. We aren’t just experiencing a bad economy, but a depression, complete with soup kitchens. Many who are employed are only able to find part-time work. I know of a single mom who works four part-time jobs to support her family. Young and old, alike, are losing their homes to foreclosure. Many have left the area in search of work or for shelter. The community charity Christmas tree is covered with requests from children for clothes and shoes, with only a few asking for a toy.
    ~~~~~

    I live in Minnesota so yeah I do know Wisconsin’s situation..that and the fact that I did the research. There was no budget deficit until Walker got into the Governor’s mansion. There was no budget deficit until he cut taxes on the rich. And because teachers are supposedly the richest people in your poverty stricken town your problem is with them and not the people who have rendered your town into poverty? You are attacking the wrong group because they did not make your town impoverished.

    You are spouting nonsense BS. You claim these teachers are oh so rich and yet you provide no evidence of it. You say they drive audi’s and go to egypt on vacations and yet you provide no evidence of it.

    You write:
    I know of a single mom who works four part-time jobs to support her family. Young and old, alike, are losing their homes to foreclosure. Many have left the area in search of work or for shelter.

    Then you should focus your attention on the people that created that situation, little one, instead of the teachers which had nothing to do with it. Because cutting the teachers salaries and pensions isn’t going to magically lift your town out of poverty or stop any foreclosures. Stop distracting yourself with a fake problem so you don’t have to face the real problem.

    Here is a little evidence for you:

    http://www.aft.org/pdfs/teachers/salary/SalarySurvey-WI.pdf

    Of course you’ll sit there and claim it’s biased because you don’t want to deal with any facts that fit your preconceived narrative but the facts are still the same.

    If your town was so poor there is no way your school district could afford such high pensions or salaries. Try again when you have the facts next time.

    I just have to love people who think the problem is the workers are getting paid too much instead of the workers not being paid enough.

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  10. baughan says:

    “Let me know, child, when you’re going to criticize the far higher and far bigger actual golden parachutes that CEO’s get until the day they die. What? You weren’t aware that money was coming from you? Ever stop to wonder how many jobs could be created with all that money the CEO’s and other executives get when they retire?

    As for the teachers in Wisconsin, I got some facts for you:
    There was no budget crisis in Wisconsin until Walker took over and cut taxes on his cronies.
    The teachers, long before Walker got into office, offered to pay more for their health care and retirement. But when he got into office that wasn’t enough.

    Then ask yourself this question, child. How are you going to get and keep the best teachers if you’re paying them crap and treating them like crap?

    Because if you think teachers are making out like bandits then you are way too gullible and are swallowing the laced kool-aid that the right wing is shoving down your throat.”

    Mr Kessler, you are sorely misinformed. I’ll ignore your childish insults.

    The discussion isn’t about CEO golden parachutes, but the golden parachutes for school administrators and teachers in some districts where weak school boards have bowed to their every demand. So how does paying $200,000 per early retiree to provide 100% of their insurance coverage until the age of Medicare qualification (and they still have insurance coverage along with a retirement paying 90% of their salary) benefit the students?

    Teachers and administrators are not losing a dime of their salaries. They can still afford their Audis or BMWs and vacations to Tahiti, Egypt, Peru or South Africa. No one is being paid “crap” or being treated like “crap”.

    School administrators and teachers are the wealthiest people in our poverty-stricken town. We aren’t just experiencing a bad economy, but a depression, complete with soup kitchens. Many who are employed are only able to find part-time work. I know of a single mom who works four part-time jobs to support her family. Young and old, alike, are losing their homes to foreclosure. Many have left the area in search of work or for shelter. The community charity Christmas tree is covered with requests from children for clothes and shoes, with only a few asking for a toy.

    Do you actually live in Wisconsin? Have you actually researched the state’s financial situation and that of Wisconsin school districts? I do live here and have. In fact, I’m intimately familiar with the financials.

    Thanks to Governor Walker, our school district will be able to keep the doors open, educating our children, providing many with the only hot meals they receive and community-donated winter coats. We would have been bankrupt by the 2014-15 school year… because of our structural deficit.

    We have been begging our unions for some relief for years, but they refused. Their health insurance (which the district funded 94% of the premiums) cost more than any other health insurance policy of equal benefits other governmental or private sector companies offered in the county. If we wanted to use another provider, the employees would receive 100% of the cost savings added to their pay, so it would not benefit the district at all to change. Walker’s plan only requires them to pay 12% towards their own health care premium and a small fraction towards their own retirement… and the savings will help schools like ours to avoid bankruptcy. We did it without putting teachers out of work.

    So how would schools going bankrupt benefit teachers and school administrators?

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  11. James Kessler says:

    Half of all Americans live in poverty. And the middle class is shrinking. What’s the Republican solution?

    Screw them over even more by raising their taxes and cutting funding that goes to them.

    That is real class warfare.

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  12. James Kessler says:

    Baughn writes:
    , in Wisconsin, things are far different than in Texas. I am by no means attacking teachers, but lay the blame on administrators and BOEs. We pay 100% of PD, travel (San Diego, Houston, Wash DC, Las Vegas, etc…), non-sick day subs, etc… (often at the Hilton + $50/day food allowance + air travel + rental car)… several hundreds of thousands of dollars a year – or more. This is just one example.

    Let me know, child, when you’re going to criticize the far higher and far bigger actual golden parachutes that CEO’s get until the day they die. What? You weren’t aware that money was coming from you? Ever stop to wonder how many jobs could be created with all that money the CEO’s and other executives get when they retire?

    As for the teachers in Wisconsin, I got some facts for you:
    There was no budget crisis in Wisconsin until Walker took over and cut taxes on his cronies.
    The teachers, long before Walker got into office, offered to pay more for their health care and retirement. But when he got into office that wasn’t enough.

    Then ask yourself this question, child. How are you going to get and keep the best teachers if you’re paying them crap and treating them like crap?

    Because if you think teachers are making out like bandits then you are way too gullible and are swallowing the laced kool-aid that the right wing is shoving down your throat.

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  13. Ed Darrell says:

    P.S — Early retirement, say between 50 and 55, is one of the keys to future economic development of our nation. Retire the old people early, let younger people who really need the job get it, and let them contribute to the social safety nets.

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  14. Jim says:

    Hi there, Baughan!

    I have traditionally struck something of a via media where organized labor is concerned. I am extremely sympathetic to the goals of unions, but much less impressed with the results they achieve and the manner in which some of them go about accomplishing their agenda. Teachers unions are included, though I have to say they have done a better job than other unions when it comes to eschewing violence on the picket line and criminal conduct when it comes to pensions and other union funds.

    I am a “mend it, don’t end it” sort of guy.

    In Ohio, my father in law taught public school in the inner city for over 25 years. He is now on disability, awaiting a liver transplant. He has been forced to suppliment his income (until he became unable to work) by teaching English as a second language for a nominal fee and assisting the ministerial staff at his church for an even more nominal fee. The health care and retirement plans he has — called “golden parachute” and “cadillac plans” by Tea Party Governor Kasich — are pitifully inadequate. He lives in an 1100 square foot house in a blue collar neighborhood, drives an old Hyundai (though he is now unable to drive) and has no debt, other than his mortgage.

    My three sisters…all retired Ohio teachers…report only slightly better economic situations vis a vis retirement and health care. They only reason they are better off is that one married big money and the other 2 worked until they were 65 — and now they work as a tutor and a waitress respectively to supplement.

    Is Ohio that different from Wisconsin? Perhaps the former Republican Governor is to blame. He did invest a pile of the state’s money in rare coins.

    I hear you. I really do. I don’t think we liberals — and I consider myself unabashedly liberal — are 100% right on most issues involving labor and education. There has to be, however, some way of ensuring that if we spend more money on education, it does three things:

    1. It maintains or improves the quality of education our children presently receive. (As I am sure you will agree, parents and the students themselves are the huge wildcard in all of this. If I had a dime for every public school teacher that told me of parents who are certain their little angel can do no wrong…and it is always the teacher’s fault; I mean really — turn off the damn TV, make them do their homework and check it. And there’s much more to say on that but bandwidth won’t permit.)

    2. It maintains or improves the quality of life for teachers and support staff. We cannot afford to pay teachers less. Are any of them making six figures? I once heard someone on talk radio claim that janitors in the Cleveland public school system enjoyed a starting salarly of 125 thousand a year with full health care, a cadillac retirement plan and other perks. I checked it out. Baloney. The starting pay was 26 thousand. And that was then…in the 90’s. Now? A lot of the work is contracted out. But we have to — we, being liberals and labor types — own the reality that there ARE actual cases of corruption, graft and possibly even beyond the pale examples of overly generous and unsustainable retirement plans. (I think this may be especially true of administrators moreso than classroom teachers. We need to reform this aspect of education especially — but even then, there is also a “you get what you pay for” factor to consider. 200-K/an. is no guarantor of quality administration. But 35-K will definitely get you an administrator who lacks even a Masters and has no experience. Do we want that? Oh, I wish I knew where the happy medium was!)

    3. It never compromises the safety and health of students, teachers and support staff.

    Education is an issue like all labor controversies that is ripe for a new, national conversation. New paradigms are needed, I cannot argue that. At present, however, there seem to be two sides speaking most loudly. One side insists the only answer is to effectively end public education, either via slow starvation or — better — executive or legislative fiat. These are the tea partiers who believe home schooling is the answer for the poor and middle class, while the wealthy should be given vouchers to make private school affordable enough that they needed raid a trust fund or sell a yacht. The other side opines that teachers can do no wrong, the system will work if only we spend more and absolutely nothing needs to change about the way we do education. I suspect both extremes are in error.

    But given the current polemic and culture in America today, a via media is not even close to gaining any kind of acceptance. There is no voice that I know of calling for any sort of fresh and creative conversation. Maybe Ed knows of someone or something. I don’t. So, what is a guy to do? If I am forced to choose, I will dig in my heels with my fellow liberals. Not because we are right on every issue vis a vis education. Hardly! But because the liberal side’s ultimate aim is not degredation and eradication. I still believe in public education. It’s far, far, far from perfect. Especially in the south and in our inner cities. But there is no other rational choice if we are to “respect the dignity and worth of every human being” (

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  15. Ed Darrell says:

    We pay 100% of PD, travel (San Diego, Houston, Wash DC, Las Vegas, etc…), non-sick day subs, etc… (often at the Hilton + $50/day food allowance + air travel + rental car)…

    Much, much less than professional development for anyone else in business. Why shouldn’t teachers get that professional development paid? Don’t our children deserve well-trained teachers? Don’t our teachers deserve the “perqs” given to a fresh-out-of-college accountant?

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  16. Pangolin says:

    I often wonder at the people who think teacher’s pay and benefits should be cut while their workload increases. Should somebody be able to come into your business and pay 2/3’s the price for 30% more product?

    We’re cutting the pay of teachers shouldn’t banks be forced to take two-thirds of each mortgage payment and cut the repayment schedule by five years? Why not? The other option is the bank gets a house it can’t sell. Go into your dentist’s office and demand a $1000 treatment for only $670 dollars and see how far you get. Ask any dentist in the U.S. and they’ll tell you that it’s harder than ever to make money each month. Their patients can’t afford treatment.

    The U.S. is doing the exact wrong thing. At a time when the economy is contracting due to staggering debt we need wage inflation to pay off those debts. Instead we get wage contractions cutting demand off at the knees.

    I’m taking up knitting; shrouds.

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  17. baughan says:

    Jim, I thought I replied to your question, but apparently it didn’t go through. An example of our golden parachute is early retirement for teachers and administrators – at 55 years old. The district pays the retiree’s insurances until they qualify for Medicare, a $200,000 perk, each. Many administrators get 100% of their retirement paid (at 90% of their salary).

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  18. baughan says:

    Ed, in Wisconsin, things are far different than in Texas. I am by no means attacking teachers, but lay the blame on administrators and BOEs. We pay 100% of PD, travel (San Diego, Houston, Wash DC, Las Vegas, etc…), non-sick day subs, etc… (often at the Hilton + $50/day food allowance + air travel + rental car)… several hundreds of thousands of dollars a year – or more. This is just one example.

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  19. Ed Darrell says:

    Very little of that applies in Texas, with systems much larger than either Detroit or Milwaukee. Here the state government has whacked out more than 10% of the funds, while enrollment is increasing in virtually every district. In my school we have 10% fewer faculty this year than we ended last year (and that was after the surprise mid-year layoffs) — but we have 25% more students.

    It is true that we pay more now for schools than in the past. I don’t think school spending has paced inflation, however, especially over the last 15 years. If my living expenses were so low as those in Finland or Greece or Shanghai, teachers wouldn’t need more money. It’s true we compete with Shanghai, but it’s not true that we can simply ship our students there for teaching.

    Staff in most big Texas districts are reduced at least 10%. No pay raises for janitors for three years. Cadillac health care? You’re joking, right? Retirement has been cut in a dozen small ways, while other retirement systems have seen increases. Travel in no school district compares with private sector travel, and field trips have been eliminated. Professional development we pay for ourselves, mostly (I’m fortunate to get the benefit of an ED Teaching American History Grant — but those were killed last year. We eat Chik-fil-A, and we train in poorly maintained district facilities after hours). Conferences? Teachers pay their own. We get docked for sick days.

    You’re right! My view is changing a bit. I’m getting angry at your completely unfounded attack on teachers and education.

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  20. baughan says:

    Jim, Glad to provide additional details. Some school districts have early retirement arrangements with their teachers and/or administrators. Our district has had this practice for the past 12-15 or so years. Here’s how it works: If a teacher or administrator attains the age of 55 and has been employed in the district for a minimum of 10 years, they can “retire”. The district pays their health insurance costs until they can go on Medicare, which costs the district about $200,000 per retiree. Administrators can also bank unused sick days for a cash payment. The cadillac health plan is very generous and covers virtually everything including abortions and viagra. I believe in treating school staff and administrators fairly, but it must be a two-way street in that it is also fair to the taxpayers.

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  21. Jim says:

    Hi there Baughan,

    Can you share some specific examples of golden parachute contracts and cadillac health care plans in public education? I am sure you’re correct, but it would be helpful to have some specific examples.

    Thanks!

    Jim

    Like

  22. baughan says:

    You’ve fallen for the “money myth”. One only needs to look closely at Detroit or Milwaukee where spending is far and above what most other public schools receive while student learning is at the bottom of the barrel to understand the fallacy of more money = better education results. On an international scale, we rank average in student performance, yet we spend far MORE on education than other countries ranked in the top ten for reading, math and science.

    Before beating the drum of “schools need more money”, take a good look at how they spend what they already have. Look at administrator and staff contracts, cadillac health care, golden parachute retirement benefits, and the money wasted on travel, professional development, conferences, non-sick day substitutes… are a good place to start. It may just change your view.

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  23. Robert writes:
    Throwing good money after bad? I pay for my child to attend Christian school, so I pay twice. The government wastes my tax money, and I pay for a real education myself. Spending more money on public education without some end in sight is at best ridiculous

    We all pay taxes for stuff, Robert, that we don’t use ourselves. That’s called living in a civilized society. And considering my local public school is better then most private schools..no its not a waste of money.

    You know what would be a waste of money? Me paying taxes for your religious bullshit.

    You don’t pay taxes for your kid’s education…you pay taxes for the education of the society around you.

    But don’t worry, Robert, we all know that what the right wing is really after here is a dumbed down stupid ignorant society. After all..if the sheep can’t think for themselves it makes them so much easier to control, fleece and butcher.

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  24. Shelley says:

    Although I’m a writer, my day job is as a college teacher, and I can tell you that out here in California, we have more and more students who can’t get the classes they need, can’t finish the degrees they’re desperate to finish, and can’t pay for the higher costs–all because of government cutbacks in education.

    Like

  25. Jim says:

    Robert,

    We’ve been down this road with you before, yes?

    Until this year, we sent my daughter to a private Christian school. It was our choice. We didn’t like the public district she was in — in no small part because of an extremist, right wing school board — so we sent her to Lutheran Schools. She got a decent education through grade four, was loved and safe.

    My wife and I continued to pay taxes without whining or bellyaching like three year olds because we realized that OTHER CITIZENS might have made different choices than us. We do not live in a non-society of loosely connected individuals. We live in a Republic where neighbor looks after neighbor as best we are able. This includes ensuring each neighbor has access to decent education. I am proud to pay taxes. I love America and I love Americans. I want them to be educated. Do you?

    I am happy that you are happy with your private, Christian school. As I said before, we liked the Christian school we sent our little one to in Indiana. Good on you for thinking about it, praying about it and doing what you — as a parent — believe best for your individual child. Now, how about affording other parents the same respect? Your choice is not the best choice for everyone. It is the best choice for you.

    Case in point: We have moved. There are private, Christian schools here. And there is a public school system. We visited, studied, researched, interviewed people and prayed about it. Guess what, Robert? We feel strongly that the local public schools are — hands down — better than the local private, Christian schools. In fact, we now send our 5th grader to one of the finest public school systems in America. We (and she) could not be happier. We still miss the Lutheran School, not least because of one particular teacher who was such a loving influence on our girl. But a four hour commute each day, each way…is a bit much. And honestly?

    As Ed indicated, baby girl is growing up. And science is becoming more a part of her curriculum. So is history. I don’t want my daughter taught to regard a book as holy and wondrous as the Bible as something as pedestrian as a science text. I don’t want her lied to about science or history…and especially not in the sacred Name of Jesus. I’m not sure if the Lutheran Schools would have taught science or creationism. I’m not sure if they would have taught actual history or Peter Marshall mumbo jumbo.

    But we’ve moved, done our homework and made our choice. I am glad to continue to pay taxes — and damn high taxes here — for the privilege of living in such a great school district. If people like you live here and still choose not to take advantage of it, that’s perfectly cool. But this ain’t Somalia, Bub. And it’s not one of those Libertarian utopia islands out in the ocean. Everyone kicks in, whatever their choice.

    Like it or lump it.

    Like

  26. Ed Darrell says:

    Good for you. I hope that your kids don’t get creationism at that school — you’re wasting your money if they are.

    Your taxes for education go to provide an educated populace, by the way — not to educate your kids. The idea is that you need the democratic process, and the only way that really works is if most people have a decent, foundational education. You’re getting what you pay for, and you’re noy paying twice.

    Like

  27. Throwing good money after bad? I pay for my child to attend Christian school, so I pay twice. The government wastes my tax money, and I pay for a real education myself. Spending more money on public education without some end in sight is at best ridiculous.

    Like

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