$11,540 per student in 2009-2010: Are we getting our money’s worth?

According to the National Education Association, the national teachers union, Oregon spent an average of $10,476 per enrolled student in the 2009-2010 school year. Add in reported debt service spending, and that figure leaps even higher to $11,540 per student.

Are we getting our money’s worth? Nationwide, spending has more than doubled since 1970, but improved outcomes have not followed. While fourth and eighth graders are doing slightly better on the nation’s most stable educational measurement―the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP)―any early gains are lost by the time they reach the finish line: 17-year-old students have not improved since the U.S. Department of Education first started measuring their math and reading performance in the 1970s.

Likewise, international evidence confirms that spending is a poor predictor of educational outcomes. While the U.S. is among the top spenders for education, we place in the middle of the pack of developed nations for performance.

Decade after decade, our leaders promise better outcomes if we just spend more and incorporate “better oversight” and “increased accountability.” It hasn’t worked. It’s time we turn the system on its head and empower teachers and administrators at the ground level to use their talents―and parents and students to find the educational program that will best help them thrive.


Christina Martin is a policy analyst and the School Choice Project Director at Cascade Policy Institute, Oregon’s free market public policy research organization.

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Posted by at 05:00 | Posted in Education, OR 76th Legislative Session, State Budget, State Taxes, Taxes | Tagged , , , | 43 Comments |Email This Post Email This Post |Print This Post Print This Post
  • Teachergal

    First, I am a public school teacher. I think you are getting your money’s worth. We try very hard every day to teach these kids, many of whom do not want to learn. Plus, for that money you get me for 172 actual days that I work with these kids. I have to teach 3 classes a day. Each class is 80 minutes. You do the math. That is a lot of work.

    Plus, I have to grade papers and do lesson plans every single night. I work hard for the salary I have. I only make 63K in salary plus about 30K in benefits. If I was an engineer at INtle I would make more, but someone has to sacrifice for the students. Now, I may have 3 full months off in the summer, two weeks at Christmas, one week at spring, and every other holiday you can think of off, but I need that time to recharge my teaching batteries. Plus, I wear a lot of hats in this job and need that time to simply get straight for the next long push. Sometimes we work 3 weeks in a row wihtout any days off.

    I am hoping for a raise, but our district is saying they are out of money for raises. How can I pay for gas and such like when it keeps going up and my salary stays frozen?

    It think the answer might be the four day week. We will still make the same money, but will teach 4 classes each day rather than three. I am not sure I can do it, but the Friday off will help me for short term recharging.

    Plus, I had to go to 4 years of college to learn to teach and had to get my Master’s degree so I could go up on the salary schedule. I am a professional. I earn my money.

    Do not begrudge me my money.

    • teachers fret

      I remember mid century professionally dressed and poised PPS teachers as never wearing their hearts on their sleeves and whining like their ‘ORGANIZED’ latter day counterparts. 
      Of course, back then many had returned from fighting for our country and were uncomplaining about a return to civility and the ‘tedium’ of teaching.

      “`OEA’h, so…are we not welcoming of the “flutterby contemporous complainus” metamorphosis?  Indeed, a 63K salary, plus 30K benefits, plus lots of complimentary COLA contained in a PERS.       
            
        http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ltrGtbMvkjY&feature=related

  • Bob Clark

    I don’t think we are getting our money’s worth.  It’s not so much the teachers and their strong union, but rather primarily the educational framework.  The public school monopoly structure may have made perfect sense in a homogenous economy where things were manufacture oriented. But today the economy is more heterogenous and the people more heterogenous, and school choice makes much more sense today.  This is particularly relevant for today’s students reaching high school age.  In other countries, by the time the student reaches 16 years old they are allowed to go several different routes, including on to college or on to vocational school.

    I am really hoping some parts of the Oregon legislature’s educational reform package make it through.  Particularly, the two bills (1) allowing colleges to launch charter schools, and (2) freeing parents and children to transfer between school districts.  These have the potential to expand the opportunities for children to get the specific skill and knowledge set that best fit their aspirations and natural abilities.

    • Quit Stalin

      What appears below, posts by valley person, 3H and jdtm…airing from the bottom of their post whatchamacallits – sounds like little drummer ploys for what’s left of US to ingest and harpfully damn the wealthy for being, well, hell, undeservedly wealthy. 

      MAY DAY!  MAY DAY!  “Give me four years to teach the children and the seed I have sown will never be uprooted.

      Vladimir Lenin

      Give us the child for 8 years and it will be a Bolshevik forever.

      Vladimir Lenin

      • 3H

        So you disagree that the single biggest indicator of academic failure is poverty?

      • just doing the math

        Quit Stalin;
        Apparently, you cannot read. Where in my post am I damning the wealthy?

        What is it with you? Any comment that slightly differs from the
        “conservative view” and now we are talking Stalinism?

        When I read posts such as yours (and really, can you not just write in plain
        English without all the superfluous verbage?) convinces me why I remain
        a moderate.

      • valley person

        Lenin? Pardon me, but recognizing the reality that the US has a higher proportion of poor kids than other nations, and that it takes more money to teach those kids than it does a middle class kid, has nothing to do with Lenin. It has to do with reality.

        FYI, I’m in private business and have been for 21 out of the last 32 years of professional life. There is a lot of political space between free market fundamentalism and Leninism, and I occupy the part of that space a few ticks left of the center line.  

    • FreeMan

      Why should a college launch a charter school? They are as ridiculously stupid as the union thug K-12 teachers.
      Just free up the regs and let the schools prosper from whatever source.

      • teachers fret

        What do you think of Jefferson High School being designated a ‘middle college’ prep?

  • valley person

    The US spends more and gets lower outcomes because the US leads the developed world in the percent of its kids living in poverty. I mean “lead” as in being the worst. Its an uphill effort to educate kids who grow up poor. 

    • 3H

      There are studies that have shown that the single greatest predictor for academic failure: poverty.

    • FreeMan

      That is so true. There are no poor people who ever got an education or amounted to anything in their lives.
      You rock!

      • 3H

        LOL.. yes.. because that is what I said – poor people never succeed academically.  Read it again, those are my EXACT words.  Now, I might try and argue that I was saying that people in poverty are more likely to fail academically – but you know the truth!  You know what I’m really saying!   😉

      • valley person

        Some do well in spite of the obstacles they faced. Many or most do not. Is that so hard to understand?

        • Frank

          Yes, it is, because I am poor.

          • valley person

            Poor just in intellect, or also in your ability to tell a joke?

          • Frank

            I no joke make to you.
            I serious man about education failings in US and more in OR.
            Failure, failure.
            12% high school students nationwide only with history?
            Can 88% be so poor as to not learn history?
            You maybe poor?

  • just doing the math

    teachergal
    If you were an engineer at (Intel?) you probably would not be making 93,000.
    They like to import their engineers from other countries (big advocates of
    H-1B visas).
     
    The irony of your post is not missed.

  • just doing the math

    teachergal
    If you were an engineer at (Intel?) you probably would not be making 93,000.
    They like to import their engineers from other countries (big advocates of
    H-1B visas).
     
    The irony of your post is not missed.

  • oregonnative

    The bottom line our kids are not getting educated today. 
    A interesting article in The Atlantic June 2010  called Scenes from a Class Struggle outlines many problems facing schools. Unions and Retirement plans. Our society has allowed our Oregon legestrative body set up a  system that keeps ALMOST everyone on the PERS System including judges. 
        Forces behind reform seem scattered and weak, while those defending the status quo-the unions, the politicians, the bureaucrats, and the vendors are well organized and well financed. Without major realignment of political forces, there will not be dramatic improvements our children need.

    • valley person

      The PERs system now has three tiers. The third, most recent tier, is far less generous than 1 or 2 and relies much more on a defined contribution, like in the private sector or the Federal retirement system. The effort to abrogate the contract that coves Tier 1 was found to be unconstitutional, so the government, meaning the taxpayer, is stuck paying that bill.  

  • oregonnative

    The bottom line our kids are not getting educated today. 
    A interesting article in The Atlantic June 2010  called Scenes from a Class Struggle outlines many problems facing schools. Unions and Retirement plans. Our society has allowed our Oregon legestrative body set up a  system that keeps ALMOST everyone on the PERS System including judges. 
        Forces behind reform seem scattered and weak, while those defending the status quo-the unions, the politicians, the bureaucrats, and the vendors are well organized and well financed. Without major realignment of political forces, there will not be dramatic improvements our children need.

  • Rupert in Springfield

    Look, its real easy to corner a liberal on this argument. I have laid this out several times before but if you want to get the deer in the headlights look from your favourite lefty follow this path:

    You – The US spends close to the top per student and gets some pretty lousy results – therefore education funding is not the problem.

    The Deer – Oh my gosh, if you think education is expensive try ignorance, you just hate teachers…..and you know, the US has a higher percentage of poor people than other countries, so thats the reason why we have to sepnd more and its a good thing we do by golly!

    You – Wait, so you are saying poverty is an indicator of higher educational costs? As in if you have more poor people it is going to cost more to educate them?

    The Deer – Yes I am, and if you didn’t hate the poor so much you would realize that. The Europeans are so much more advanced, they don’t have as many poor, and thats why they can spend less per student.

    You – Ok, so where is this argument when it comes to health care? We spend more per person on health care, yet I never hear you guys giving this poverty argument then?

    The Deer – Um…….Ahhhhh….Um……..Can we go back to you just hate teachers?

    • valley person

      The deer….ignoring the obvious that we don’t fund health care the same way we fund education in this country, so comparing apples to oranges can be misleading, poverty also costs more in health care because poor people are less healthy and have more chronic problems like diabetes. 

      You…So you are trying to tell me that if we had less poverty we would have better educated people at less cost, and we would also have healthier people at less cost?

      The deer….. yes. I’ve been trying to get this through to you for several years now. Since facts mean nothing to you, what would it take? 

      You….a brain and heart transplant, which is not covered by my private insurance.

      • Rupert in Springfield

        >poverty also costs more in health care because poor people are less healthy and have more chronic problems like diabetes. 

        Well, nice to see you concede. Yes, so, since our populations differ, thats part of why we have a more expensive health care system than a lot of European countries do.

        That’s what I love about this argument, and it nails a liberal every time

        They can either have logical consistency and concede, as you did, or they can argue the point. If they chose the latter it clear to all that really what they care about is not education, not health care, but simply expanding government.

        Thank you!

        • valley dude

          Our populations differ? No Rupert, our POVERTY levels differ. Are you really this obtuse or are you just playing at it?

          I conceded something? I’m afraid to ask. 

        • valley dude

          Our populations differ? No Rupert, our POVERTY levels differ. Are you really this obtuse or are you just playing at it?

          I conceded something? I’m afraid to ask. 

        • John B.

          Uh, we’ve had a mixed economy since we instituted Civil War pensions, so… My point is that I don’t see any evidence that one singular approach is going to work every time, especially concerning schools. Valley Person has it right bringing PERS tiers into the discussion. Isn’t the real question usually “How much regulation is warranted/justified to achieve stability, safety & growth?”

          Yes, there is always a trade-off concerning adoption of government regulations, but that’s a legitimate approach. Government isn’t always evil & isn’t always good. It’s necessary. There are a lot of flaws in traditional Liberal approaches to solving problems, but I have to ask: Why is it free market conservatives seem to always forget that the market is our economic engine, not what binds civil society? Just like the other two pieces of the pie, government & the social groups that range in importance from churches to neighborhood associations to bowling leagues, the unrestricted market is never a cure all for anything. 

    • 3H

      LOL..  I don’t know if you were referring to what I said or not – I didn’t say that educating the poor was more expensive (it might be – I don’t know), I said that studies have shown that people in poverty are more likely to fail academically.

      And what VP said about apples and oranges.     

    • just doing the math

      I will be more than happy to give you the poverty argument on health care.
      I have paid close to six figures just in premiums alone to maintain the
      individual health plans of my family. (I am not including co-pays). And
      my premiums increase well above the rate of inflation every year.

      I keep thinking, if there was a way to get those individuals that choose
      not to buy insurance, but could afford to pay something, maybe those
      increases in premiums would level out. And if those individuals had
      access to preventative care, which I think we can all agree is way cheaper
      than trips to the emergency room, maybe those premiums would cease
      their double digit increases.

      And I keep thinking, what I could have done with the money that would
      have been saved had I not been paying for those uninsured indivduals  
      making those expensive trips to the emergency room that has resulted in
      those double digit increases in my and others premium rates. Maybe
      pay for a better education for our kids and save more for our own retirement
      (as we pay for others retirement).

      The health care system is not working here. Just one major illness
      can throw a family or individual into poverty. Why not examine other
      health care systems that seem to be working in other countries? Why
      is it in the US we feel we have to always re-invent the wheel? Are we
      this arrogant of a nation we cannot look to another country and examine
      those programs that work?

      • Rupert in Springfield

        >Why is it in the US we feel we have to always re-invent the wheel?

        Largely because if we look at other countries we see national health care systems that are bankrupting them. If we look at our national health care system, one is called Medicare, it is bankrupting us. Pretty simple stuff actually.

        Want more?

        Ok, here ya go.

        The Post Office has been existence for something like 230 years, its broke.

        Social Security has been around for 75 some odd years, its broke.

        Medicare has been around 45 years, its broke.

        Now, please tell us why we should think US national health care would be the one thing, the one single magic bullet in all of that mess that somehow will result in not bankrupting the country?

        Can you do the math on that?

        Because pulling a rabbit out of a hat seems less magic than that little feat of prestidigitation!

        • valley dude

          “Largely because if we look at other countries we see national health care systems that are bankrupting them.”

          If we look at other countries and pay attention to actual facts we see them spending half of what we do for better results  And if we look at our own country we see the highest personal bankruptcy numbers in the world due to medical expenses.

          If you could get as good or better a house or car at half the cost, would you take that deal Rupert?

           

          • healthnut

            We can look at other countries and see populations with much less obesity and the resulting chronic illnesses that account for the most expensive part of health care plans. Americans are much more expensive to try to keep healthy than any body else on the planet.

          • valley dude

            British and German and Canadian people are just about as tubby as we are and they still spend about half for better results. Discuss. 

          • healthnut

            Spending half for better results is a subjective determination. What is true is that many countries are becoming less healthy as work becomes easier, physical fitness deteriorates, and as they adopt Americanized diets of fast foods and engineered agribusiness products. At the same time as we are debating the pros and cons of nationalized health care for fat, drug addicted, sedentary Americans other countries are experiencing similar skyrocketing costs due to an aging population with more American-type chronic health issues the expensive technology coming online. I wouldn’t be too surprise if within ten years many of these countries start looking for more competitive, free-market solutions to the problem.

        • valley dude

          “Largely because if we look at other countries we see national health care systems that are bankrupting them.”

          If we look at other countries and pay attention to actual facts we see them spending half of what we do for better results  And if we look at our own country we see the highest personal bankruptcy numbers in the world due to medical expenses.

          If you could get as good or better a house or car at half the cost, would you take that deal Rupert?

           

        • just doing the math

          I just love the conservative point of view. As long as I have mine
          damned everyone else.

          Rupert, I do the math on my health care expenses all the time.
          And I take the responsibility for maintaining health plans for
          my family. And I know that we all cover the uninsured one way
          or another. Why not approach health care from a perspective of
          inclusion?

          And again, where in my post do you read where I am writing that;

          “Now, please tell us why we should think US national health care would be the one thing, the one single magic bullet in all of that mess that somehow will result in not bankrupting the country?”
          That is not what I was suggesting. I was suggesting that we could
          potentially learn from programs that are successful in other countries.

          Because, and I know that this may be difficult for you to understand,  
          that just because “I’m an American” doesn’t mean I have all the answers.

  • Gordo

    I have seen studies that say it’s teachers that make the difference.  A good, effective teacher can overcome a kids poverty or lack of parental involvement.  I have seen data that says a rich kid with involved parents stuggles with a bad teacher.  The focus should be on creating a continuous learning environment for the teacher.  Who is evaluating teachers?  Who is showing them how to teach and who do they go to for help when they are not effective?  They need a support system, possiblely peer driven.  They need to be evaluated and pushed for constant improvement but you can’t raise expectations without giving them the support to meet those expectations.  The current system does not do that.

    • valley dude

      I’m sure there is a study for everything. But the fact is that poor kids do worse in school statistically than middle or upper class kids.  

      • oregonnative

        Another fact the poor kids are doing less well in public schools is :

        and not in any pacific order, is:

        1.    With the new PERS tier in effect young teachers are burned-out being before any tenure is in affect. No teacher wishes to teach Math when they can get the same wages for Gym.

        2.    The profession is still taking a financial drain on the system. If a tenure is guarantee at 4% increase per year that compounds very quickly and then matching retirement with compounded growth ( rate of living) with health also . The system is draining from the students.

        3. For the politicians the school system can be enormously helpful, patronage hires, favored community and business programs and on and on.

        4.   A lot of teachers are realizing that charter schools are better for their health even though the pay is less because they are over tested  by a failing mandates. 

        5.   Imagine that the tax payers are paying $1,800 per year per student on debt service PERS now. 

        6.    Special Educations programs are consuming more dollars than expected.

        more & more 

        • valley dude

          Every issue you list applies to middle and upper class kids in public schools as well as to poor kids. Lake Oswego kids have teachers in PERs that are paid as well or better than their counterparts in poor towns or neighborhoods. 

          Given equal inputs, poor kids do worse in school that middle class and above kids. Europeans have fewer poor kids to deal with than we do. You want less expensive school improvement, start with reducing poverty.

      • Frank

        I think the poor earn less money than the well-t0-do according to studies I have seen.

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