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June 23, 2003
Nation's School Report Card Shows Taxes Are Too Low
by Scott Ott

(2003-06-23) -- A decline in reading skills among U.S. 12th-graders demonstrates that taxes are far too low across much of the nation, according to an unnamed spokesman for the National Education Association (NEA).

The teacher's union representative said "huge influxes of cold cash" are needed in the tax-funded, government-regulated school system "for the good of the children."

Only 36 percent of seniors tested at the proficient level in reading, which is down from 40 percent four years ago.

"There's nothing like cash to make kids smarter," said the NEA spokesman. "We believe that taxpayers still have some more money in their pockets. And they could use those dollars to fund higher teacher salaries, more administrative positions, and more school computers so kids can learn how to do PowerPoint presentations."

This week the NEA will launch its "No Dollar Left Behind" campaign designed to ensure that every greenback has a chance to go to school.

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BAM! First...and it doesn't even matter to me.

Posted by: myworldtotravel at June 23, 2003 08:10 AM

Democratic solution to ANY problem: just throw money at it.

I think I'll become a problem to the Democrats.

And take a big net.

Posted by: some random guy at June 23, 2003 09:27 AM

You know, the NEA spokesmodel may be right. Have you noticed that when spending in schools is up, the kids have all of a sudden become more intelligent, and when they need a raise, their test scores are low?

Posted by: Cricket at June 23, 2003 09:53 AM

A little more discipline in the classrooms, and a whole lot more parental involvement could cure a lot of the public schools' ills.
And guess what?
Neither one costs the tax-payers a dime.

Nahhh...that could never work. It actually makes sense, and there wasn't an 18 month government funded study to reach that conclusion.

Posted by: some random guy at June 23, 2003 10:08 AM

Here are some interesting statistics from previous years.

From "Almanac of Policy Issues"

"Nearly $373 billion of revenues were raised to fund public education for grades prekindergarten through 12 in school year 1999˝2000. Current expenditures (those excluding construction, equipment, and debt financing) came to almost $324 billion. Three out of every five current expenditure dollars were spent on teachers, textbooks, and other instructional services and supplies. An average of $6,911 was spent on each studentˇan increase of 6.2 percent from $6,508 in school year 1998˝99 (in unadjusted dollars). Total expenditures for public education, including school construction, debt financing, community services, and adult education programs, came to nearly $382 billion."

More interesting was the comparison of various Western countries and the amount spent per child:

The question arises, since the US is actually doing quite well in spending per child and class size, *could* the problem lie with teachers?

Cuts have included drivers ed, music and athletic programs - all vital (especially music and athletics) to a child's learning capabilities. Music and art have proven to stimulate the brain in learning the three R's, yet many schools have stopped their programs.

Sounds like we have a over-bloated beaurocracy who feeds on itself rather than accomplishes the job.

Posted by: Kayse at June 23, 2003 10:13 AM

On the money Scott. With 40-45 cents of each education dollar going to 'non-teaching' activiites (administration). Any business with 40-45% non-product overhead would go bankrupt quickly. We're subsidizing inefficiency.

Posted by: michael at June 23, 2003 10:22 AM

National average per spending per student of $6,900, California average of over $7,500 or so, DC average even higher.

And to get an actual education for your child you need to go to a private school and spend $3,000/yr or more. A top flight private HS focusing on college prep might cost $6,000/yr, but would offer a near 100% rate of college acceptance for their graduates.

Something tells me spending per student isn't the problem here.

Posted by: JohnC at June 23, 2003 10:37 AM

We need more money? How about decreasing adminstrative salaries?

Posted by: Lisa at June 23, 2003 10:43 AM

"No dollar left behind"....What a great slogan for the DNC. You've hit the nail on the head, Scott.

Posted by: Mike Coleman at June 23, 2003 10:44 AM

The funny thing is, most people are happy with their school districts. In fact, that's one of the reasons people move to areas in the first place. However, I tend to agree that throwing money at a problem is not the answer, but rather spending wisely.

You never here parents in wealthy districts complaining about their students getting $13,000/year, but you start to when people like "some random guy" complains about other schools "surviving" on about 1/3 of that (see East St. Louis, NY City, Appalachian schools).

The fact is, many schools are still underfunded. Teachers end up spending money out of their own pockets for supplies.

Now, no teacher is going to argue about parents not being involved. The truth is, that's a problem in EVERY district. Schools with the funding to cope with those students see higher success rates.

The other issue for public schools is the fact that they are required to accept everyone. That means autistic children, children with disabilities, children with emotional or psychological problems, violent children, disobedient children, ill children, etc. That money has to come from somewhere. Urban public schools are especially needy because they see higher rates of many of those issues (check out asthma statistics sometime).

And you know what? Private schools, catholic schools, and so forth can DENY all those students.

That is all, go about your day.

Posted by: Mike at June 23, 2003 10:49 AM

I propose that the teachers' salaries and the number of administrators be tied to the test scores. 36% on the test scores means that the salaries of the teachers involved be cut 64% and the administrative hierarchy be cut 74% starting from the top down.

Posted by: Bill at June 23, 2003 10:52 AM

Oops. The cut in adminstrators should be cut by 64% also. Demote my typing teacher.

Posted by: Bill at June 23, 2003 10:55 AM

Bill writes: "I propose that the teachers' salaries and the number of administrators be tied to the test scores. 36% on the test scores means that the salaries of the teachers involved be cut 64% and the administrative hierarchy be cut 74% starting from the top down"

Teachers do not make much, which is part of the problem. Funds get diverted and that might be an interesting trail to follow.

Schools across the nation, built in the 1950's, are suffering from much needed repairs. How easy is it to learn when rain is coming through the roof? Or it's 110 outside and the a/c is down?

Does anyone remember when grade schools provided that fat lined paper, pencils, etc? They can't do that anymore. I helped a niece with her school needs and spent 190.00 on paper, pens, folders and other necessities - all from a list provided by the school district. The districts keep getting more dollars, yet their ability to perform has deteriorated.

Better handling of funds seems to be the issue. Like any beaurocracy, the money goes to the top and way too much stays there. We see that in all levels of government and business. Yes, a person should receive what they are worth, based on their job performance, but City/County/Administrative officials aren't doing the job, so their access to such funds should be curtailed. Let the money get to where it's supposed to go...the classroom.

Machiavelli know of what he spoke!

Posted by: Kayse at June 23, 2003 11:04 AM

My children go to a government school bought and paid for with voted indebted bond dollars; it has gold fixtures for lights and faucets.

When I visit the opulent edifice, I notice decay and disarray. The school is only three-years-old yet it is looking like a third-world. I'm not saying third-world because of the student's skin color; I'm saying third-world because it's dirty.

I envisage a school built with 9 million dollars to be a shining city on the hill but I get tenure teachers that give no care and administrators that allow dirty classrooms and common areas that reek of gum and coke.

My children go to this "new" school but what are they learning? Yes, they are learning how to stand in line, not clean up, and to bring their work home so I can supervise it.

Government education will only improve when it is force to compete. As long as public education is a PROTECTED MONOPOLY it will forever be substandard.

Posted by: Randy Hall at June 23, 2003 11:07 AM

Funny, I read my post and didn't find any complaints about schools "surviving on one-third" of anything.

Must be my substandard public school education.

s.r.g., B.S., J.D.

Posted by: some random guy at June 23, 2003 11:07 AM

Let's cut out all of the socialism. No matter how much money you throw at any given situation, if the teaching end of it isn't up to par, you are still going to have the same problem.
The admininstration cuts need to be drastic, the teachers need to be recertified, too many of them can't teach. If the teachers aren't teaching, the kids aren't learning.
And the schools need to stop being baby sitters. They are there for EDUCATE, not to ADMINSTRATE parental duties.

Posted by: quark2 at June 23, 2003 11:24 AM

Let's get Mr. Falsification of Records Rod Paige on the subject. We obviously need a 9-11 style commission on the subject. That would get us some answers.

Posted by: Strong Bad at June 23, 2003 12:05 PM

Why do people always have to bring up the old tired argument about public schools having to accept all students. So what? Don't try to confuse the issue. We are talking about ordinary, everyday schoold attended by ordinary, everyday students. Of course it is expensive to educate and care for disabled students. That's why the federal govt should foot the bill - they wrote the laws demanding mainstreaming and all the rest. As for the troublemakers, if you have discipline in the classroom that is baked up the the school administration, and YOU REMOVE the troublemakers, you can have succesful schools. I was born and raised in CA and we once had good schools. And I don't want to hear another word about Prop 13.

Posted by: Scott in CA at June 23, 2003 12:36 PM

Imagine you're a classroom teacher with no special ed training. At the beginning of the school year you're handed 3 IEP's (Individualized Educational Programs) for three children in your class, kids who are either trouble makers, behaviorally disordered or troubled students. You as the teacher now must modify the Classroom Curriculum such that you as the teacher meet or exceed the INDIVIDUALIZED PREOGRAMS you've just been handed. All at the same time you must meet the NON-INDIVIDUALIZED curriculum for the rest of the class room.

Are the inmates running the asylum?

Posted by: tom at June 23, 2003 12:55 PM

A few points...

The problem with making salaries entirely contingent on test scores is twofold. First, you get lower standards lobbied for by the teacher's union and second, you can get students who would blow a test to spite the teachers and their salaries.

Second, the NEA doesn't want parental involvement. It might interfere with the indoctrination. Parents might not want their 5th graders learning how to put a condom on a cucumber. The NEA are mostly hypocrites. 2/3 of their kids are privately educated. That's tantamount to Lee Iacocca driving a Ford.

What's missing today in education is so very, very simple. It's called discipline. It begins in the home. Kids who got discipline at home usually weren't a problem in school. Kids who didn't get discipline at home used to get it at school and that was good enough. Now, unless you get it at home, you don't get it at all. Undisciplined kids make education for the rest of the students nearly impossible.

Why did we stop discipline? Somebody told us it was bad for self-esteem. In the same breath we were told that self-esteem is the ultimate goal, that it's more important to feel good about a wrong answer than to obtain the right one. Both of these statements are false. Education is the goal. Self-esteem isn't given or innate, it's earned. It's earned through achievement and perseverance through adversity. Perseverance is impossible without....discipline.

Discpline need not be physical, it just needs to be enforced. Our schools are full of cops with no ticket books. Police don't have to raise their voice, they don't have to be mean. Why? Because they can write you a ticket. If that's not enough to persuade you to obey, they have a sidearm and a radio. You are simply not going to win against the police. I wouldn't drive on streets patrolled by police with no authority. Lawlessness would abound. The halls would smell like gum and Coke because of the undisciplined students who don't know or care where the trash cans are.

Special needs children need to be in special needs schools. We used to have schools for the deaf and schools for the blind. Schools for autism and schools for cerebral palsy or whatever else ails a child are worthwhile endeavors that I wholeheartedly support tax funding for. You cannot fully integrate a special needs child into mainstream public education. Call it a cruel fact or whatever you wish. You are sacrificing the education of the other 99 to attempt to integrate the one. Special needs kids do need integration. There have to be other methods of integration that can be employed outside the classroom...visitations for example.

I have four children and it probably comes as no surprise that we make the sacrifice of homeschooling. Not only do I pay for the school materials, but my taxes support a system that I don't agree with. Yet that's a sacrifice we're willing to make. Because education is the goal.

Posted by: Didaskolos at June 23, 2003 01:09 PM

When Mass cut the welfare rolls back in 91 one of the stipulations to remain on the dole is having a special needs kid.
Miracles never cease for some people as all of a sudden cases of add and narcolepsy and other diseases shot thru the roof.

People will do anything to get out of working.
I went to public school in Manhatten where being a caucasian I was in the minority and English IS a 2nd language.
Although fairly fluent in spanish its not because of books rather because of the ""diversity"" of the school.
I ended up at Boston College,my brother went to Holy Cross and my older sister to St Johns and the baby ended up in Yale as the spanish say or Jail as we anglos call it..
Theres a thousand reasons why and luck is certainly one of them but another reason is my parents were much older with Danny and he was the last of us so there wasnt any of us to look after him and what he was doing at night...
Dope is a scurge in this nation and I have seen what it does to otherwise good kids and good families and no one is exempt..Keep dope out of the schools and make the parents accountable for their kids behavior and you will see the difference.$$$$$$$$$$$ dont mean un gatz..

The only things I look at on my 1st graders report card is conduct and effort,all else will fall into place providing those 2 elements are there,grades dont matter in reality till junior year of high school..

Posted by: Sean at June 23, 2003 01:51 PM

supreme court justice john paul stevens would vote to direct more money to schools so computers could be purchased and discrete internet porn terminals set up for all the kiddies. new DNC slogan: "no child's unalienable right to porn left behind"

at least that's what i get from reading his dissenting opinion in this case.

in the future, we might overhear this on tv around election time: "my fellow americans, your cash is hard at work, turning america's hallowed libraries into seedy adult bookstores, like our party has always wanted! vote to reelect!"

Posted by: travis at June 23, 2003 01:52 PM

Actually, I was expecting "Nation's School Report Card Shows Taxes Are Too High; Emergency Tax Cut Recommended".

Posted by: InstaInstaInsta at June 23, 2003 02:08 PM

While I normally get my hackles up anytime the Feds or the Supremes do anything that looks like censorship. The porn filters on public library terminals are a VERY GOOD thing.
The terminals in the libraries are there where every Tom, Dick, and Harry, and their little brothers and sisters can get at them.
A 9 year old looking up something for a school report doesn't need to get hit with a half-dozen porn site pop-ups.
Think of it as parental controls for those who stand in loco parentis.

Posted by: some random guy at June 23, 2003 02:24 PM

>>>Teachers do not make much, which is part of the problem...

Oh brother. You obviously don't live in the People's Republic of New York. Here, a kindergarden teacher can make upwards of $90,000 and work only 180 days out of the year.

Drive around any neighborhood and you can tell where all the cops and teachers live: they have the nicest houses with pools in the backyard and boats in the driveway. It's a local joke, until you look at your property tax bill.

I pay $7,500 a year in property taxes for a quarter acre plot. My household income in $46,000 a year.

Yeah, boo-hoo-hoo for all those underpaid teachers.

Posted by: John at June 23, 2003 02:32 PM

Random Guy
I think every library,especially the ones in small towns,oughta have a list of local sex offenders on its front doors.
Where else could a sex offender have an easier and more voluminous prey?

I know its sad but in defense of the children you sometimes have to think like a predator..

Posted by: Sean at June 23, 2003 02:38 PM

I homeschool too, and I pay usurious taxes for a failed bloated bureacracy. However, I also grew up in AZ (Barry Goldwater's Arizona if you please) and finished off in CA, right when Edmund brown took office from Ronald Reagan.

The schools took a nosedive...and California once had the *best* schools in the United States if not the world. How good? I collect old school textbooks as a hobby and I found a trig text dated 1918, for high school SOPHOMORES that would have given difficulty to a second year college student majoring in math.

It is an easy text to follow, and I have found that some things are eternal in nature, such as two plus two will always be four.

I find it ironic that with all the money we throw on eddication, why we have the lowest test scores.

I have an autistic son and I have been able to teach him things that even the government teachers said was impossible...simply because no one told me that I couldn't and that he wouldn't be able to handle it.

So, I am in support of schools for special needs kids, but I am also in favor of NOT supporting stupidity.

Posted by: Cricket at June 23, 2003 02:58 PM

John I hear ya loud and clear..
What are janitors errr custodial engineers making these days?
I live over by e 39th and 2nd ave and am pushing 6figures a year,I own a 3 family and pay double what you do in taxes,I am struggling to keep up w with my neighbor Enrique,the guy who has 3 kids and a stay at home bride who happens to be a janitor over near battery park..\
Now I dont care what a guy does to make a living but there seems to be a problem when a guy who is about 6credits shy of his masters in education is competing with a guy who speaks 4 words of english on the economic field..
Oh well in fairness to my friend from ecuador I wouldnt do the job for 150k a year.

Posted by: Sean at June 23, 2003 03:19 PM

As a high school student in an urban area, I would have jumped at the chance for vouchers. The problem is that Democrats don't want black kids in THEIR schools so they don't let them happen.

Posted by: Greg at June 23, 2003 03:32 PM

Lots of interesting points on education here. Some of my musing:

Of course some of the problem lies in the teachers, but as some argue, I don't know that salary is the issue. Teachers have always been low paid. When education was "good" in our country, most teachers were women (and most educated women were teachers or nurses), and salaries were low. If you look at your college's education department today (and for the last several decades), it is filled with the worst students in the college not on athletic scholarships. Students who can't make the grade in their major easily switch that to a minor and major in "education."

I think there is a big "chicken" or "egg" problem here. Raising salaries won't make already entrenched bad teachers any better. And it won't be enough to change the behavior of intelligent college students who can make a lot more in their younger years in business, law and medicine. The solution most likely to work would be to close all of the professional opportunities society started allowing women to pursue in the 70's and since. Then smart women would only have two choices, teach or nurse, and two of our countries work force problems would be solved. But that isn't on the table.

While we are on teachers though, I don't think the answer is "more certification." I think that is part of the problem. In many states, private school teachers don't have to be education majors or certified. And those schools usually produce a better product. My college professors couldn't teach the subjects they taught me so well (argueably) to high school students b/c they aren't certified. I think we would be better off allowing people to easily shift professions from non-teaching into teaching w/o another 3 years of college to get the most useless degree in the world, an education degree. There could be other ways to achieve the market signal one needs to prove to an employer the ability to teach a subject.

I do not believe that educating "special needs" students accounts for our public education crisis. Parents I know with "special needs" kids have always benefitted from transferring them to private schools. In these cases (I know, not a scientific study), the public school atmosphere appeared to be the more significant problem. In an atmosphere of expectations and discipline, special needs are not so difficult to overcome.

BTW, why should the tax payers foot all of the bill, i.e., extra education expense, of special needs kids? Why shouldn't the parents foot part of that bill? Since when did we decide that parents aren't responsible at all for their child's education?

Finally, the biggest problem will always be the government control of the education system. This has been covered well enough by SRG and others before me. Why can't we allow parents to use some (not even all) of the money earmarked for their child's education on the school of the parents' choice? Vouchers would allow schools to compete on the product, like colleges do now. And the poor could more easily overcome their alleged disadvantages in achieving quality education. And such a system would not take money from the public schools. If the school spends $9,000 per student now, and gives a student a $6,000 voucher to go elsewhere, the school keeps $3,000 to allocate over the rest of the student body. There is more money per student after the voucher is used.


Posted by: KJ at June 23, 2003 03:38 PM

A first year high-school teacher in the commonwealth (ha!) of Kentucky earns about $23,000 per year.
The certification requirements are a bachelor's degree in the subject they teach, plus another 20 or so credit hours of specialized education classes (materials and methods, educational psych, a semester of student teaching, etc).
After that, you have 10 years to get a Masters degree in your subject. It's required.

You do get a raise with the Master's plus raises for seniority.

My mother taught for 27 years (retired about 6 years ago) and had a Masters. At the time of her retirement, she was making about $27,000 annually.

Talk to me about overpaid teachers.

Posted by: some random guy at June 23, 2003 03:41 PM


That may be the stupidest thing ever written on a public forum.
Now if you said the N.E.A. doesnt want to part with any public money and because they are soooo far deep into the democrats that their lobby is the single biggest in the whole party then you have a point.
However dont play the race card here,even if it punishes black and spanish kids more its a policy that ensures a public monopoly on education and that is what the NEA wants,needs and demands from the democrats who do their bidding for them.

Posted by: Sean at June 23, 2003 03:48 PM

I went to public schools in the 1950s and the school was built in the 1890s No, there was no air conditioning. The students did not destroy the school, and there was some sembelance of disipline. I compare my education (near the bottom of the class) to that of my daughter (Validictorian), and I can attest to the degredation.
The problem is not just the teachers. It is the attitude of the students and thier parents, and the lack of disclipine. The problem is NOT money, or the age of the school.

Posted by: Godfather at June 23, 2003 03:57 PM

So, what is the main argument against vouchers? The public schools are failing(trust me on this one) and I do not see a light at the end of the tunnel any time soon...

The administration is just fine about how things are running around here, they are not pushing for change of any sort.

I just get fed up with people defending the current system, it doesn't work.

Posted by: Greg at June 23, 2003 04:00 PM

TYPO!!!! Make that $47,000 annually at the time of her retirement.

What other profession can you be in that requires that much education, and have more that 25 years of seniority, and still make that little.

Posted by: some random guy at June 23, 2003 04:10 PM

Godfather reminded me of something I meant to discuss in my overlong prose above. Since when were kids unable to learn w/o air conditioning? Kids in the first half of the century, in the south, did it all the time. Who ever said you can't learn in a trailer? In many countries, that would be a luxurious accomodation. The problems with our schools are not air conditioning or trailers, bad faucets or leaky roofs. It is atmosphere and expectations -- call it bad teachers, bad administration, lack of discipline, lack of standards, lack of expectations, too much psycho-bable about self esteem, whatever. It has nothing to do with the physical structure of the school or how many computers are in the class room. I learned math with a pencil (and later a pen) and paper, a book, a teacher (some years), and a chalkboard.


Posted by: KJ at June 23, 2003 04:16 PM

AC is schools?
What a novel concept. We just sweat a lot.
The office and the library had AC. That was about it.
Classroom discipline was not a joke. You could still get whipped by the pricipal (this is high school).
Having a parent for a teacher, I behaved in class because I was told to treat my teachers as I would like to hav others treat my mother. A simple tactic, but it worked. This does not mean I did not cut up. I just sat down and shut up when I was told to.
Also, most of the faculty knew my parents. Many had worke dwith my mother, and would call her if I got out of hand. The consequences were unpleasant to contemplate.
We did not worry about our classmates being armed. When we fought it was with our fists. Most of us carried pocket knives, or buck knives on our belts, but considered it as a tool rather than a weapon.
Perhaps it was a simpler time. Perhaps we were just innocents in the big bad world.
Crap. It was the '70s and early '80s. This was not an innocent age.
So what the heck happened?

Posted by: some random guy at June 23, 2003 04:18 PM

I appear to be only slightly younger than SRG, and I want to know what happened, too. When I went to school, we had ROTC students bring working guns to school on the bus. I lived in a rural area my high school years, and many of my friends hunted with guns that were given to them as Christmas or birthday presents. We didn't fear the ROTC people, we didn't lack access to guns, we carried pocket knives, our cafateria had real forks and knives, and yet we too fought with our fists.

Todays problems are not caused by access to the means of violence. We have always had access to weapons. Today, it seems, we are more willing to use them.


Posted by: KJ at June 23, 2003 04:25 PM

I dont see the public schools failing.
I see many students who go to public schools failing.
Forget about the minorities and the sped kids for a minute and lets take a trip out to the burbs where ""good education"" is.
Ma and dad both work
Ma drops little johnny off at 645 for daycare and proceeds to finish getting dressed on the ride to work.Her 8-5 job is horrible but it helps pay the 400k mortgage,hubby on the other hand is workin the 7-6 shift at the firm to pay the bills as well.
Ma picks up junior from extended day care at 555 or the child is considered abandoned,flies to the grocery store for some nice micowavable dinner and does her best to prepare something like a dinner for hubby who is due home at 7-730..

Now at what point during these 12 hours has the parent been involved in juniors education??

Does dad want to hear it after 12hours??
All ma wants to do is get into the bath tub and think about her days as a hot soriety babe who couldve married the doctor but didnt.

Point is this.
In the hustle to keep up with the Joneses sometimes its the kids who are left behind.
Kids who want to learn,who have the support at home,will thrive in the ghetto or at a private school..The kids who dont have a parent waiting for them after school will suffer unless they have the self discipline of Ghandi.

If the question is which schools are better then ofcourse I would say the private ones.
Of the distinguished members of this panel who are over 35...
Could you imagine the beating you would get at home when you told your dad the teacher slapped you for whatever reason?
Now adays the 1st call wouldnt be to the school but to your local sleezebag lawyer and this is another issue that needs to be adressed..
give the schools back to the teachers..

Posted by: Sean at June 23, 2003 04:29 PM

KJ -

all those special needs kids in private schools? They're paid for out of the public school budget. Any parent with a brain in their head brings a lawyer to the PPT meeting. When it is decided not to fight the possible legal battle, the school then foots the bill (tuition plus transportation) to send the kid to a $60k/year private school.

Posted by: tom at June 23, 2003 04:49 PM

"Quality time"

When did this replace "quantity time"?

I was a latch-key kid. However, the time I was alone at home (I don't count me older brother as supervision) was never over an hour.
Until high school (jobs and sports teams), dinner was all four of us around the kitchen table.

I realize all this sounds very Beaver Cleaver, but what's wrong with that?

Posted by: some random guy at June 23, 2003 04:53 PM


It sounds like teachers are overpaid where you live. However, Arizona is much different. My wife is an elementary teacher and when we moved to Arizona she took a 20K decrease in salary. Granted AZ is like the 48 or 49th state ranked by teacher salaries. But when the voters here approved a raise to our teachers, guess what? The administration gave the voted money to the teachers, but kept the money normally reserved for teacher raises. I didnÝt really investigate but from what I hear they (the administration) spent the extra windfall on pet projects (that bombed) or just plain ýkept it.ţ

The voters approved the pay raise based on the low wages (comparatively) of AZ teachers ˝ that fact was in the wording of the proposal. The result was the teachers salaries went up the same amount as if the proposal didnÝt pass. As far as AZ goes, I agree that the administration is top-heavy and selfish.

I wouldnÝt necessarily say that the answer to our education problem is to throw more money at it. We could start by cleaning up the inefficiencies first. But giving disciplinary authority back to the teachers would be a good start.

And kudos for all of you talking about discipline in the classroom. I think most of trouble with the youth of America is based in the lack of discipline. They seem to have no respect for authority of any kind. Being about the same age as SRG, I never dreamed of trying some of these mindless stunts. When the school got done with me, my parents would dish out 5 times the punishment. I respected (and feared to a certain extent) my parents and thatÝs the way it should be. Kids need strong alphas, otherwise they try to become the alpha ˝ BAD idea.

Posted by: Ynot at June 23, 2003 05:31 PM

As we all live in different areas of the World, what has happened here, may not be happening to everyone, but here goes. I live in Indianapolis, IN, and this year our property tax bills increased anywhere from 100%, to 300%, and the main reason is, to give the schools more money.

I, like most people here wouldn't mind if it was helping kids learn, but that is NOT happening. I have worked all my life, to have something in my retirement, including my house. I make about $20,000.00 a year on my 25 year Railroad pension.

Thank God my house is paid off, but now with the new tax rate, (pro-rated over 12 months), I am paying, in taxes and insurance NOW, what I was paying on my mortgage in 1977 for my monthly payment, (taxes, AND insurance, was included in payment through escrow)! It's like I have to BUY my house all over again, now from the Government! Believe me, if I don't pay them on time, they will be able to take my house easier than the Mortgage Company ever could have, (and will)!

Posted by: Old and Tired at June 23, 2003 05:59 PM

the solution - get rid of socialism in the United States.
Here's a radical idea:
People who use the service (schools) should pay for the service.
Payers should then be free to buy their educational services from whomever they so choose.

Allocations of land/labor/capital will then flow to where it is utilized most efficiently. Free markets, why not?

Posted by: tom at June 23, 2003 07:36 PM

I agree with more discipline in the schools and getting rid of fat cat administrators who steal teachers salaries.

However...have we forgotten one teensy tiny ever so critical little important detail (adopting James Woods' voice as Hades from Hercules)?


There. I feel refweshed.

Go on with the discussion.

Posted by: Cricket at June 23, 2003 11:57 PM

Here's a one word solution: VOUCHERS

Posted by: Larry Talbot at June 24, 2003 12:14 AM

Com'on you are all skirting the issue. This is like a big pile of doodoo in the middle of the living room floor. Everyone walks around it hoping somebody else will clean it up. Why are the schools being 'dumbed'? why is there increasing violence? why is putting a condom on a cucumber considered education? Remember, the truth will set you free and you can't solve a problem until you start dealing with the truth. ya'all KNOW the reason. Start dealing with the truth.

Posted by: Eric the Red at June 24, 2003 06:46 AM

A careful analysis of educational data vs. real $$($$ adjusted for inflation etc)over several decades shows that performance has steadily declined as average expenditure as climbed. Moreover, the relative positions of $$ vs students per educational methodology grouping is also inverse: absolute bottom(and dropping relative to the rest of the industrialized world), Public Education, Next to Bottom(but lots better): secular private education, above that: religious private education(a little better yet), and finally homeschooling (lowest $$, best results across the board).

Posted by: Mike Cyrus at June 24, 2003 11:26 AM

The glorious state of Ohio has vouchers, titled "Open Enrollment". You can go to whatever school you want if you can get your children to a bus stop in that school district.
The number of children who leave a district equals the number coming in.. so the practical up shot of vouchers is diddly.

An educational system stands on three legs: Child, Family and School. The child can choose to "sink their own ship" as motivated by revenge, boredom, self-perceptions of inadequacy etc. A family of drunken self-indulging morons can ruin an otherwise motivated child and caring teacher. A crappy system dominated by pedagogic "dinosaurs", moral degenerates, misguided simpletons, and "best AVAILABLE" hires can thwart the good family and motivated child.

Money is not the solution, taking children away from idiots is not the solution, winning the cooperation or otherwise removing the child is not the solution.

There is not just ONE solution to a complex problem. The solution lies in applying the correct medicine to the properly diagnosed ailment.

Given the scarcity of the wisdom of Solomon, and the wisdom given to educators-of-worth not to work in crappy school systems, there is no practical solution that stems from government at a federal or state level.

Posted by: Fr. guido Sarducci at June 24, 2003 11:29 AM

PS I work in education and what I am saying is the solution starts at your schools board members, your school, your family, your kids, your-self. Don't go looking outside for the problem that lies within.

If the answer was a question of knowledge or research, this generation would have solved all the worlds ills.

The problem is a matter of heart and determination which has been a problem that has plagued man and will always dog him till the redemption of the creation.

""I desire obedience and not sacrifice" declares the LORD"

Posted by: Fr. guido Sarducci at June 24, 2003 11:37 AM

I have this guy who works for me and is as dim as it gets despite his doctorate in ancient greek.
His dads a dentist,he wasnt allowed to watch t.v. during the week,he was home schooled then prep schooled,4 years at Tulane and finished up at our lady of the assumption in worcester mass.
All this knowledge and he wouldnt know Ariel Sharon from Arafat from the current president.
He came to us as a disgruntled school teacher,now he is a happy clerk who's hobbies include playing the guitar and hard core porno..
Sad thing is this guy has 2 kids under 3yrs old and a wife who thinks shes smarter than the rest of the world.
18 month prediction.

The wife leaves with the kids and he will starve to death because he has never had to deal with adversity that someone else didnt handle.

Posted by: Sean at June 24, 2003 11:47 AM

"God created an idiot for practice, then he made a school board."
--Mark Twain

Posted by: some random guy at June 24, 2003 12:16 PM

Who said those who can,do
those who cant,teach?

Posted by: Sean at June 24, 2003 12:56 PM

As a former teacher, son of a teacher, grandson of a teacher, and grandnepher of a teacher and principal, I've never really liked that statement.

Unfortunately, my own educational experience (as a student, and later as faculty) leads me to believe that that is the rule, and not the exception.

Also, it was one of the reasons I got out of the racket. I figured that as a lawyer I could deal with a better class of people that high school students. You know, theives and rapists and such.

Those who can, and want to teach, soon get disillusioned and find better paying work elsewhere. They are also less likely to get sued.

Posted by: some random guy at June 24, 2003 02:45 PM

The problem is unstable families that have to work harder and longer for less money. A select percentage of decision-makers in all industries and institutions are essentially picking up the incresed proft form de-valued american workers. They are also, thanks to current tax code, capable of hiding and investing their imense wealth so the %40 hit is on a meager portion of their actual income so their contribution in minimized. (meanwhile the 100k a year family gets whalloped) We have poorer harder working unbalanced familes sending kids to under-funded institutions (Oregon anyone?) We also continue to tolerate the proliferation of purile messages form advertising agencies and media outlets selling useless junk (edible and non-edible)and very negative self-image ideas directly to our children.

I don't get conservative logic. YOu are willing to spend billions and risk human lives to give freedom to the Iraqis, and are very tollerant of the errors, waste, and risk for a people you do not even know (and provide a public shool system free form the influence of religious fanatics).

Why don't you start a "War on Education?" How far could your billion dollar-a-day campaign get you in improving our education system? How much progress could be made from the data collection alone? And what if you treated teaching like it's a real career, not a fallback or scam to get "summers off". Pay the darn people, and who cares about the waste or the bad teachers that slip by? (bad people do that in every system from the top down) If 10, 100, 1000, or 10000 kids become productive citizens rather than wastoids, wouldn't it be worth it? How much would you be willing to spend if you knew it cold make a difference?

My entire family owes public education a great deal. My parents got out of poverty because of hard working parents and the immense, now gone, public educational opportunities once available in the NYC area. They suburbanized and send me and my 3 brothers to a well funded public school (with forced integration from the city I might add, which was succesfull for many african-american students). We all turned out all right. No one "wipped me good". No bible smashed over my head. No return to the good-ole days. Just reading writing and arithmetic- and loving parents who didn't have to worry about job security.

Now schools can't even get current books in their classrooms. Teachers are working nightly trying to manage too many students who are in the harder-working unhappy families mentioned above. And I see no line of qualified teachers forming to do anything about our education problems.

Money does help. Good paying and secure jobs for everyone helps (except the shareholders perhaps). I am not promoting communism, but a survive or die scenerio would end in disaster- do you want New York to become like Calcutta or urban South America? I think it might if conservatives had their way and the support systems were dropped. By the way, I notice (from election maps) that most conservatives do not live in urban areas- is it out-of-sight, out-of-mind? Armchair politics? A.M. radio research?

Anyhow, I know we all want the same things, and I pray, regardless, we get all it.

Posted by: Joe monger at June 24, 2003 03:02 PM

BTW - administators really stink. I forgot to mention that. My money is for the teachers, class size, and the tools needed. I don't know many democrats or other liberals who speak too highly of them either or feel their pay is justified. Kind of like CEO's.

Posted by: Joe monger at June 24, 2003 03:09 PM

my brother taught as a sub before law school too.
my godmother is a 40year teacher and my 1st cousin is a physics teacher,apologies if i offended as i didnt mean it that way..
Much like most of the military,money doesnt go to the soldiers the same can be said about public schools.2 of my former football coaches went on to become high school principals and another went on to become athletic director and yet another works in guidance.
All 4 of these guys were known to play around with the girls and 2 of them married girls whom i graduated with...all of them are in the 70k/per range and all of them have private business in the summers,albeit real estate,landscaping or construction..
In fairness to these guys the drinking age was 18 back in the day which created many instances of this type of behavior,I find it personally inexcusable.
But there you have it,guys making huge money with questionable ethics and little or nothing to do with education other than friday nite bed checks for their athletes..

sad isnt it!!

Posted by: Sean at June 24, 2003 03:56 PM

Well, The money has to come from somewhere...and it isn't the printing press the government runs in the form of legal tender, aka fiat money.

It comes with taxes which creates inflation as bad money drives out good. Welfare is the owrst business government can be in since it is contstrued as a right, entitlement and is somehow 'owed.' I disagree most emphatically.

As to the homeschooled scholar in that case of arrested adolescence, I feel sorry for him that he was never allowed to mix it up with the kids in the neighborhood.

Notice I said neighborhood, not school. I feel that school can and should be for the teaching of academic subject and leave the morals and manners to the parents.

And the reinforecement to the teachers.

Posted by: Cricket at June 24, 2003 04:29 PM

I realize I'm arriving late to the discussion, but I wanted to say how much I appreciated the original post. A week and a half ago, a town not far from me voted down an "override" of a property tax cap that was being pushed to fund the schools. The "we need to raise taxes for the chiiiiilldruuun" contingent was the loudest, as it always is around here, but they were outvoted by four percentage points. And half the registered voters didn't even come out that day.

Of course, the next edition of the local weekly paper was full of sob stories -- "Waaah, my kid won't get to take music this year!", stuff like that. But one dim bint actually quoted the "It takes a village" line, then had the audacity to say, "I think the village has failed my children."

I found her email address and told her exactly what I thought of her sentiment. I didn't use any coarse words, and I laid out my political sentiments in a logical fashion. She wrote back addressing me by the wrong name and describing my email as "extremely offensive."

I didn't really expect anything better. In this ultra-P.C. part of the country, being offended is indeed an argument, and any opinions that contradict the "prevailing wisdom" are prima facie offensive. So I'm just priding myself on having said things to this woman that nobody around her has ever had the brains, balls, or integrity to tell her.

Posted by: Reginleif the Valkyrie at June 25, 2003 06:18 PM

Go, Valkyrie, go!
(cna I polish your breast-plate? Hiyotoho!)

Posted by: some random guy at June 26, 2003 11:56 AM

You Rock, Valkyrie Woman! While I love the music curriculum, etc. I think admin costs are way too high, and if they want things like music, cut some salaries.

the KERA of 1990 allowed the local school districts to tax UTILITIES, for crying out loud.
So, on top of the tax we paid in Rineyville (we no longer live there), we paid utilities taxes.

I wonder if The Kentucky Education Reform Act was ever rescinded. It should have been, along with the bubbas going out to your house and 'assessing' the taxable value of your house which was WAY over what the market would bear.

People got smart and sold their houses way below the assessed value which then cause the loss in revenue to soar again.

I hated it when Brereton Jones took office...

Posted by: Cricket at June 28, 2003 12:49 AM

Most of these postings are so old I doubt anyone will see this, but if you do, I hope you read it very carefully. I appreciate the comments made that place the responsibility of school problems partially on the parents. If teachers weren't having to spend their time doing the job of failing parents, we could spend more time on teaching. I teach high school english, and I am shocked and appalled by many of the comments I read from ignorant, taxpaying members of society. Please do your research before you post to a site like this. It would do you well. Most teachers are not any more supportive of many of the tax systems developed than other citizens. We pay taxes too! In addition, many of us belong to the NEA so that we have legal support if a child wrongfully sues for any reason. You can believe it doesn't happen, but you would be wrong. I want protection if a partent doesn't like me and then decides they should sue for some fictitious reason. Lastly, (because I doubt many of you will be able to stick with the large words much longer) I undertand the idea about having schools separate for students with disabilities. That is a great plan if you desire to reinvent the class system of the middle ages. It's the law to have these students integrated into a mainstream classroom, and for many of them it does wonders for their education. Those who are have severe disabilities are placed in classrooms when possible and appropriate but not at the expense of other students. You obviously have never met a student or person with a severe disability. You couldn't be so heartless and without compassion if you had.

Posted by: stopblamingothers at April 26, 2004 02:28 PM

Most of these postings are so old I doubt anyone will see this, but if you do, I hope you read it very carefully. I appreciate the comments made that place the responsibility of school problems partially on the parents. If teachers weren't having to spend their time doing the job of failing parents, we could spend more time on teaching. I teach high school english, and I am shocked and appalled by many of the comments I read from ignorant, taxpaying members of society. Please do your research before you post to a site like this. It would do you well. Most teachers are not any more supportive of many of the tax systems developed than other citizens. We pay taxes too! In addition, many of us belong to the NEA so that we have legal support if a child wrongfully sues for any reason. You can believe it doesn't happen, but you would be wrong. I want protection if a partent doesn't like me and then decides they should sue for some fictitious reason. Lastly, (because I doubt many of you will be able to stick with the large words much longer) I undertand the idea about having schools separate for students with disabilities. That is a great plan if you desire to reinvent the class system of the middle ages. It's the law to have these students integrated into a mainstream classroom, and for many of them it does wonders for their education. Those who are have severe disabilities are placed in classrooms when possible and appropriate but not at the expense of other students. You obviously have never met a student or person with a severe disability. You couldn't be so heartless and without compassion if you had.

Posted by: stopwhining&getproductive; at April 26, 2004 02:28 PM