Back to the one-room schoolhouse

If we returned to the one-room schoolhouse, paying teachers would be no problem, writes Charlie Martin on Pajamas Media. He costs out a Manhattan school for 24 students at New York’s average funding for public schools: $14,119 per student.

. . . assume 24 students in Manhattan, and a one-room school built in quality office space in midtown. I laid out a floor plan and discovered we could fit it nicely into 1,050 square feet; equip it with good quality desks and chairs and with one iMac computer for every two students, plus one for the teacher and a Mac Pro as a classroom server; and add Internet connections and $1,000 per student for books and supplies. How much remained to hire a teacher?

$230,000. Almost a quarter of a million dollars.

Martin has more details here.

Martin’s thought experiment assumes a one-room school needs no administrator. He also doesn’t fund physical education, specialists to teach a foreign language, science, art or music, an aide or help for disabled students. But with $230,000 for teaching salaries, there should be money to hire part-time specialists and still pay the teacher very well.

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Comments

  1. Joanne, thanks for the link. This is a thought experiment of course, but I’d point out that the Adams County one-room school didn’t have physical education, specialists to teach music art and science, or an aide.

    But then physical education wasn’t needed, because the kids were trudging five miles through snow uphill both ways just to get to school.

  2. Walter E. Wallis says:

    …and a return of the corner saloon would reduce drunk driving.
    Some things do not benefit from consolidation.

  3. I made this same argument for years. I even threw in a guarantee: I’ll take 6-8 students into my home for lessons each day (meals included) At the end of the year, test them. If they reach all city and state standards, pay me the standard rate of $15K per child; if not pay nothing. I would earn more as a teacher, and the kids would be spared the dark, satanic mill that was their South Bronx elementary school.

    Do I think it’s practical? Of course not. But it’s sure fun to think about. The student outcomes would surely be better than where they were. Or are.

  4. Richard Aubrey says:

    I guess the question is what would we hear from the folks currently getting the $230k.

  5. A one-room schoolhouse model would force re-adoption of teaching methods that would be effective for students of different ages and abilities. Would modern differentiated learning work here, do you think?

  6. Well, it’s hard to budget efficiently when it’s unclear what the mission is. Moving in all directions at once is costly.

  7. Don Pettengill says:

    Tom McClintock’s “A Modest Proposal for Saving Our Schools”
    (2005) is hilarious, and is along the same line:

    http://republican.sen.ca.gov/web/mcclintock/article_print.asp?PID=292

  8. shows how much administrators and the like cost the school districts

  9. Oh how I would love to have 24 kids per classroom, have the money to work with them AND not have state legislators or administrators blocking me from doing what we (teachers) know needs to be done. Just think what today’s teachers could do with 6-8 teachers in a class!!!

  10. And leave us not forget the “$125,000 per teacher” charter school that’s started up in New York. Makes a bit more concrete the cost, leaving aside the value, of the central administration.

    Oh, and the principal of the school’s supposed to make significantly less then the teachers. Anyone want to hazard a guess as to the message that sends?

  11. “A one-room schoolhouse model would force re-adoption of teaching methods that would be effective for students of different ages and abilities”…only if it’s in a rural area. If it’s in a fairly dense area, then you could have one-room schoolhouses for each grade…

  12. I would have thought the term “one-room schoolhouse” was meant to evoke an old-fashioned rural school.

    Otherwise, I guess I could say that I attended a single-grade one-room schoolhouse in seventh and eighth grades. But back then we called them “portable classrooms.”

  13. Oh, and the principal of the school’s supposed to make significantly less then the teachers. Anyone want to hazard a guess as to the message that sends?

    That teaching the kids is more important that managing the teachers?

  14. So, I have a question: are the administrators members of the teachers union? I’m guessing the answer is no, but it’s just a guess.

  15. > That teaching the kids is more important that managing the teachers?

    Give that man a cigar.

    And by extension, in the balance of the public education system, especially so in school districts, the implication of teachers being the lowest paid professionals would be…?

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  1. […] school house.  Is it an idea whose time has come around again?  At Pajamas Media (hat tip: Joanne Jacobs), Charlie Martin costs out what it would take to bring back the one-room school house…in […]