Monday, November 5, 2007

Inefficient Public Schools

We all know that the Public School System is a well practiced money waster. Cape Diem, however, has run some numbers on just how much money they waste and produced a series of posts on the subject.

Here he points out that spending per student in constant dollars has grown by 10x since 1929. But this post shows where that money is being spent. Quoting Cato's Saving Money and Improving Education, he notes:

Student enrollment in public schools grew by 13% between 1979 and 2000. During the same period the total number of school employees grew by 61%, and the number of teachers grew by 35%. Nationally, public schools now have about 1 employee for every 8.1 students, and teachers make up only 40% of total school employees
As a side note, my favorite part of the post is the comparisons he makes at the end.
1. The Chicago Board of Education, which has 3,300 employees, is larger than the entire Japanese Ministry of Education.
2. The New York City public schools system has 250 times as many administrators as the New York Catholic school system (6,000 administrators in public school system versus 24 in Catholic school system), even though New York public schools have only four times as many students as the Catholic schools.

In this final post, he shows that because Public Schools have so many more administrators than teachers, they cost much more per pupil than their private counterparts. In contrast to the common perception that private schools are elite organizations awash with old money to trow at their privileged students, they operate with budgets of, on average, 1/3 to 1/2 the size per student.

Average private school tuition ($6,600) was about 1/3 less than the spending per pupil in public schools ($9,620) in 2003-2004 (the most recent year available), and average Catholic school tuition ($4,254) was less than half of public school spending per student.

Not only was the average private school tuition between 1/3 and 1/2 less than the cost per public school student, the private schools had on average 18% more teachers per 1000 students (72.25 in private schools vs. 61 in public schools) in 2003-2004.

Yet our money continues to be funneled into the Public Schools, reinforcing their failure with increased spending. If parents were free to spend that money on the school of their choice they could procure a better education for their children while saving the taxpayer a whole lot of money.


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