What could possibly account for the disparity between the United States’ spending more than any other country when it comes to education, and the lack of increased performance? If you listen to our politicians, it’s because we are not spending enough on our country’s “most valuable resource”.
A new study confirms what economists have been saying for years: there is no correlation between how much we spend on education and school funding and how well students learn and perform.
(Fox News) — For decades, it’s probably the most troublesome question facing education: Why are results for U.S. public school students so mediocre, despite the billions of taxpayer dollars spent?
Andrew Coulson thinks he’s got the answer: Because there is no discernible correlation between spending and outcomes.
“The takeaway from this study is that what we’ve done over the past 40 years hasn’t worked,” said Coulson, director of the Center For Educational Freedom at the CATO Institute. “The average performance change nationwide has declined 3 percent in mathematical and verbal skills. Moreover, there’s been no relationship, effectively, between spending and academic outcomes.”
The CATO Institute is a free-market think-tank based in Washington, D.C.
Coulson just released his study, “State Education Trends: Academic Performance and Spending over the Past 40 Years,” and he points to this chart that incorporates costs and the number of public school employees with student enrollment and test scores:
While spending has just about tripled in inflation-adjusted dollars and the number of school employees has almost doubled since 1970, reading, math and science scores for students have remained stagnant.
Since 1970 we have been pouring billions of dollars into education with no tangible change. If our politicians are to be believed, if we only spend a little more we could get little Johnny to improve those math and science scores.
Spending isn’t the the, student discipline is. Unfortunately, no one gets elected to the Board of Education addressing the true issue which is two-fold.
What student really need to hear fro their educators is: “Sit down, shut up, and pay attention”. Teachers have been conditioned, by lawyers and unruly irresponsible parents mostly, to ignore problem children in the classroom. They must tiptoe around the obvious. Junior is failing because he does not pay attention and does not listen or respond to his teacher’s authority. There are no “bad” kids anymore, just children who need a little more special attention. Educators are reluctant to pull Junior out of class and tell him bluntly, “if you do not straighten up and fly right you will not amount to much in life”. Junior will arrive home, head hung low, and tell his mother the teacher made him sad…and we can’t have Junior feeling sad, can we.
“Not sweet innocent Junior!” is the worst way a parent could possibly respond when hearing the news that Junior is a classroom nuisance. Not only is it naive, but in all likelihood the blue-eyed darling angel is a problem at home as well, and the parents know it. This response conditions Junior that he can act as he pleases and failure is someone else’s fault. It sends the additional message that the educator’s response — and not Junior’s behavior — in wrong. Thus Junior will continue through his education with this notion that the educator is to blame for any academic discipline incurred.
Catering to the child’s self-esteem over and above academic results sets the pace for their school career. In the worst cases, lawyers are brought in to threaten educators into placating Junior’s parents, that they are singling him out among the other students. It matters not that he is singled out because he is singly disrupting the class and refusing to learn.
While there will always be gainsayers, the truth is spending does not produce results. The US continues to bring up the rear in student performance rankings and will so until we address the real problems facing our education of young people. Increasing teacher salaries, purchasing newer and more expensive computers, or a new science lab will not make children smarter or produce better results; we need proper attitude and discipline. Parents need to support teachers. Recognize that Junior can be a hell-raiser at times, and that he just doesn’t care to learn, but then following through goes a long way. Parental involvement in their child’s educational career is the key to success.