Category Archives: Education

Where does the money go?

Earlier today I posted on how education had to change and I wasn’t happy with the current system and options for my kids. My grandmother replied within minutes with basic premise: we should talk about this but no one wants to pay more taxes.

I agree, no one does. Especially into a failing system.

But let’s talk money.  I’m using here and here as sources. The data is from 2010 – 2011 but I can’t imagine it changed much from year to year.

The Chicago basics:

  • Average classroom size: 25 kids
  • Money spent per student: $13,000

That’s $325,000 per classroom.  This is pretty damned good. This is more than pretty damned good.  $325,000 / class room should be a world class education!

The solution cannot be that we need more money. The solution has to be that we need to spend the money better.  If a CEO had such bad results with $325,000 / classroom the CEO would be on the street. Where is this money going? It certainly isn’t going towards quality education.

Education — Change is Needed

The brilliant, yet fictional, Sam Seaborn once said:

education is the silver bullet. Education is everything. We don’t need little changes, we need gigantic, monumental changes. Schools should be palaces. The competition for the best teachers should be fierce. They should be making six-figure salaries. Schools should be incredibly expensive for government and absolutely free of charge to its citizens, just like national defense. That’s my position. I just haven’t figured out how to do it yet.

He isn’t kind or right or on the right track; he is exactly right. Whichever of West Wing’s writers penned those lines (was it you Aaron Sorkin?), I solute you.

With a nearly-4-year-old, school selection is weighing heavily on my mind and the options — public, private, or parochial — aren’t looking all that great. The issue isn’t necessarily the schools themselves, it’s this whole horrible system we’ve created.

And then last night I heard Sal Khan on the Commonwealth Club podcast, speaking about Khan Academy. I urge you to listen to it. Not only is the story of its start entertaining and interesting, but some of the ideas he puts forth make me want the whole system rethought.

My daughter goes to pre-school that is year round and deftly mixes creative activities with learning, similar to what Khan speaks about. I ask her what she did at school and she says “we played and we played and we played” and then tells me what she learned. This is what school should be! So why does it seem to only exist in a private pre-school?