January 2010 Archives

At the risk of sounding like a Pollyanna, I have to take issue with the latest alarmist depiction of public education in this country. On Dec. 30, the New York Times published a news story about the Program for International Student Achievement. The article said that the rankings augured ill for America's competitiveness in the new global economy ("Shanghai Schools' Approach Pushes Students to Top of Tests"). Or as Arne Duncan said: the PISA rankings are a "wake-up call." The trouble with this assessment is that it is hardly new. Taxpayers were exposed to similar hyperbole before in, of all ...

Asking if money affects educational quality is a little like asking if gravity affects inanimate objects. I say that because in both cases there are many factors that come into play, making the answer more nuanced than it initially appears. Let's begin by looking at the numbers. In 2007, we spent $11,749 per student annually in grades K-12 in public schools (Statistical Abstract of the United States). To put this into context, between 1970 and 2005, inflation-adjusted per-student spending increased by more than 100 percent (Digest of Educational Statistics). In actuality, spending on public schools per student is probably ...


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