Public Education

Yes, you read that subject-line right, Sylvia: Texas taxpayers now spend $11,084 per year per child on public education. But less than half of it makes it toward instructional expenses.
Ten years ago Texas was spending just $5,857. (If per-pupil spending had increased with inflation, it’d be just $7,542 now, not $11,084.)
So where is the money going? Looking at data on the Texas Education Agency website, it’s not going to the classroom.
If you think of each kid the way school administrators do — as bags of money — and consider your average third-grade class which has a cap of 22 students per teacher, that’s $243,848 sitting there.
The money isn’t going to the teacher. Average teacher pay was $47,313 in the 08-09 school year (up from $34,357 a decade ago). So where’s the other $200,000 derived from our average classroom going? Seems a bit much for overhead, doesn’t it?
Certainly not instruction-related expenses. Of the $11,084 spent per pupil on public education in 2009, only $4,831 went for anything that could even remotely be considered “instructional” expenses as defined by the Texas Education Agency.
Over the last decade, student enrollment has risen 15 percent — from 3.9 million students to 4.6 million students. In that same period, the number of teachers grew accordingly, at 19.3 percent. We have 14.4 students for every teacher (in 1999 it was 15.2 students per teacher).
But non-teachers? That’s where the growth is. We had 22 percent more non-teachers on the payroll in 2009 than in 1999.
So for all this spending, for all these new, non-classroom employees, surely there’s been some marked improvement in academic performance. Right? I mean, that’s why we spend money in public education…
Actually, there’s been a decline in results. The average Texas SAT score in 1999 was a 992. In 2009, it dropped to a 988. The SAT may not be a perfect barometer, but it’s a pretty consistent outside measurement. Given what we’re paying per kid, surely it’s reasonable to expect a little improvement, right?
Our public schools are spending dollars almost faster than the taxpayers can earn them. We’re told to support public education spending for the sake of the children. But the money doesn’t seem to make it to where the kids, and their teachers, spend their days.
As parents and taxpayers, we have to demand that more dollars flow to the classroom, not from our pockets but from the over-fed bureaucracy whose bloated weight is dragging down our teachers and academically endangering our kids.
So when your superintendent or school board next asks you for more money, bigger budgets and growing staff, we should demand they show us precisely how it will directly improve the education Texas’ kids receive. We’re clearly not getting our money’s worth.
The place to make these changes is at the local level. Your school district has a lot more power over their spending than they might want you to believe. It’s time for us to demand a lot better.
For Texas,
Michael Quinn Sullivan
& the Team

One Response to Public Education

  1. […] the issues Michael Quinn Sullivan was gracious enough to stop by our porch and visit with us about: Public Education Speaker Straus’  Two-Step Possibly related posts: (automatically generated)Michael Quinn […]

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