If there’s no market …

In 1964, Sears advertised a TV console for $750, writes Mark Perry on Carpe Diem.  For an equivalent amount, about $5,500, a consumer today could buy “8  brand-new appliances (refrigerator, freezer, dishwasher, range, washer, dryer, microwave and blender) and buy 9 state-of-the-art electronic items (laptop, GPS, camera, home theater, plasma HDTV, iPod Touch, Blu-ray player, 300-CD changer and a Tivo recorder).” In short, things are a lot cheaper.  

This illustrates The Desperate Need for Market Forces in Education, writes Matthew Ladner, guesting on Jay  Greene’s blog.

We live, in short, in an age wonders, except of course for areas of the economy heavily managed and financed by the government,” Ladner writes. “In those areas, instead of radically improving products provided at continually lower costs, we tend to see expanded costs for no, little or ambiguous improvements.

From another Perry post, Ladner supplies a chart showing the fall in prices in food, cars, clothing and furniture from 1948 to 2010 as a share of household expenditures.  Then he adds a Cato chart showing inflation-adjusted K-12 spending and achievement since 1970 .




















Since education is a service, not a thing, it would be fairer to compare it with the cost of other services, though it’s hard to get at the quality issue. We spend a lot more on health care, but we get much more effective medicines and treatments. If anyone has useful data, let me know.

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  1. What about things like hiring a plumber or an electrician? Those are labor-intensive, can’t be outsourced to India or China, and I would presume would be of similar quality to in the past since it’s not like there has been some huge revolution in plumbing or electrical work since the 1960’s. I have no idea where to look for that kind of data, however.

    • What about things like agriculture?

      In 1882 80% of the labor force was employed in agriculture. Now? One and a half percent.

      Plumbing and electrical work has enjoyed more then a few technological improvements which have significantly improved productivity although not the extent of the agricultural sector.

      Also, a significant percentage of the professionals employed by the public education system don’t ever see the inside of a classroom. The largest percentage increase in professional employment in the public education system has been among non-teaching professionals. We don’t really need any technological improvements to improve the efficiency of public education. We just need to get rid of th dead weight.

      Not that technological improvements can’t be made as Khan Academy and the blended classroom is showing. But hey, when attendance is mandatory and the budget has no relationship to results why would any bother with substantive improvements of any kind?

  2. Right-wing talking point of the day.

    • Reality point of the day. Deal with it.

      • If you can’t see the difference between commodities and labor-intensive services, well, there’s not much point in attempting a discussion.

        • Roger Sweeny says:

          Of course, part of the question is just how labor-intensive education really is. Naturally, those of us in the business want to keep it at least as labor intensive as it is now (and I include not just us teachers but everyone who works in a school of education or populates the various state education departments).

  3. A huge misuse of data to compare material products with instruction of people who may not be motivated or personally invested in the process. It’s the same argument as judging doctors on whether their patients live healthier lives or dentists on how many cavities their patients get or police by the behavior of the people on their beat.

    Of course, Matt’s heart is in the right place, and his ideas should not simply be dismissed.

    • Michael,

      Would you agree from the cost/test score chart that we are radically failing to control costs in the current model?

      If so, read Ladner again:

      We live, in short, in an age wonders, except of course for areas of the economy heavily managed and financed by the government. In those areas, instead of radically improving products provided at continually lower costs, we tend to see expanded costs for no, little or ambiguous improvements.

      There’s another area that’s like this, and its medicine. We’ve seen costs massively outrun benefits over the last two decades. Under the PPACA (a.k.a. Obamacare), this phenomenon has only gotten worse because the few cost-control components left in the heavily-regulated system have been stripped away.

      Now, given the effect that markets have in other areas of economy (including the service areas), i.e. better products and services for lower prices, looking at returning health care and education to be market based is a reasonable starting point for a discussion on how to fix the problem at hand.

      It comes down to this… if you’re going to spend $50 or $150 for the exact same result, why not spend $50 and use the $100 for something else?

      • I disagree with Quincy–that we’re not getting more for the money in healthcare. Whether it’s the stroke you’re not recovering from due to the ablation you had ten years ago, or the clot that was dissolved after the DVT, you might be alive, or at least not disabled because of a medical advancement. Of course, you also might be aborted because of “reproductive health” insurance, but that’s another issue. Obamacare will remove the incentive for medicine to improve, or even for good people to go into the field.

        • Norma,

          As a share of GDP, health care expenditures doubled from 1975 to 2005, from 7% to 14%. (From the CBO: http://www.cbo.gov/ftpdocs/87xx/doc8758/maintext.3.1.shtml) That’s a huge chunk of the economy reallocated to health care.

          This steep climb coincides with the inclusion of more and more things in coverage mandates as well as the regulations used to encourage/require employers to provide group health insurance.

          There are areas of health care where new technology has driven cost and delivered amazing benefit to people. That’s not the major driver of expenditures, though. The lack of cost control measures is, and that is causing massive expenditures without benefit to the consumer.

        • “Aborted because of ‘reproductive health insurance'”??????
          As famous Republican Joe Wilson once said, “YOU LIE!”

      • Quincy,

        As even you have noted, health care costs have been accelerating for the past 2 decades, long before Obama. You have ZERO evidence that PPACA has “stripped away cost-control”, or that PPACA will result in a faster rate of increase of health care costs. But then again, Republicans just love TMSU.

        • jab,

          Are you trying to strawman what I said or do you just have a reading comprehension problem?

          Here is my original, correct statement:

          Under the PPACA (a.k.a. Obamacare), this phenomenon has only gotten worse because the few cost-control components left in the heavily-regulated system have been stripped away.

          Here is your idiotic reading of it:

          “stripped away cost-control”

          Your oversimplification caused you to miss a couple of key points:

          1. The stripping away of cost controls through the mechanisms I note in my reply to Norma has been occurring in conjunction with the spending explosion.
          2. Those few cost controls that were left were stripped away by the PPACA.

          You have ZERO evidence that PPACA has “stripped away cost-control”, or that PPACA will result in a faster rate of increase of health care costs.

          Whaddya mean evidence? Isn’t THE TEXT OF THE LAW evidence?! Here I thought all those words put on paper by Congress meant something!

          If you need more evidence, how about all the discussions around how the individual mandate was necessary to broaden the pool of people paying for insurance because those already in it would cost more? (Which, by the way, only works until everyone is IN the pool, then costs continue to rise.)

          As for the price increases, health insurance premiums have already started increasing faster after the PPACA than before:

          This year, the average premium for a family hit $15,073 — $1,303, or 9%, higher than the year before. And that’s on top of increases of 5% in 2009 and 3% in 2010.


          The law went into effect in March, 2010. Since most health insurance premiums are set at the end of the year before, the first year premiums were set under PPACA rules was… wait for it… 2011.

          Even government actuaries are telling the truth on the PPACA:

          Richard Foster, the Chief Actuary for the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS), reports that America will spend an additional $311 billion on health care in the next decade because of the law.

          CMS estimates the growth in health insurance costs will increase 10 extra percentage points in 2014 because of ObamaCare — a 14% increase, versus 3.5% without the law.

          The facts are clear and they fully support my original position. Sorry, jab, but you’re just plain wrong.

          • You are quite the adept spinner… you should definitely get into writing propaganda.


            Out of that 9% increase, it is estimated that only 1-3% was due to PPACA, the rest of the increase would have occurred anyway.


            A study of 26 health plans covering 32 million Americans showed an increase of only 1.5% because of PPACA in 2011.

            Furthermore, the increases were expected because some of the higher cost provisions were implemented first, but other cost-saving measures were put off until 2014.

            It is far more nuanced than you are articulating. But you are not interested in the truth, just in cheerleading fir your side. But I will sure love watching Repubs twist themselves in knots defending Mitt Romney (that is, if he can hold of the surging Santorum).

          • According to Drew Altman, the president of Kaiser Family Foundation (the org that determined health care premiums increased by 9%), PPACA only caused a modest 1-2% increase… quote: “Critics of the national health reform law passed in 2010 like to blame everything but the weather on “Obamacare,” but regardless of how you feel about the Affordable Care Act, its effect on premiums this year is modest. Most of the law’s provisions don’t go into effect until 2014. The two biggest changes this year allow young adults up to age 26 to stay on their parents’ insurance policies and require some insurance plans to cover preventive services at no cost to patients. These are popular provisions that provide real benefits, and combined they account for about one to two percentage points of this year’s premium increase.”

          • jab,

            Fair enough, but if PPACA had done what it was designed to do, it would not have cause an increase this year and it would not be projected to cause increases in future years by the Medicare actuary.

            You’ve still failed to refute my point about regulations removing cost controls and prices going up as a result.

          • Quincy,
            I had another post prior to my last one… it had a number of links, but it is awaiting “comment moderation” (perhaps because of the links.)

            PPACA is projected to bring down costs in the long-term… in the short-term it was completely expected to cause premiums to go up slightly as new requirements for plans were put in place… most of the cost-saving provisions have not even come into practice yet… they were backloaded until 2014. So no, the fact that premiums increased by a couple percent because of PPACA does NOT mean it failed in its original goal… if the plan works, costs will go down after all the provisions are fully in place.

          • jab,

            The cost saving measures going into place in 2014 consist primarily of:

            – Payment cuts to providers (which will likely be rolled back as earlier ones have been. Doc fix, anyone?)
            – Price controls (proven, time and again, to produce shortages and eventually *higher* prices than the free market.)
            – The individual mandate (which only works so long as there are new, healthy people to force into the system. See Massachusetts for an example of how well this is working)

            These do not adequately offset the cost containment measures removed by PPACA (the loss of annual spending caps alone in 2014 will be hugely expensive) and will likely lead to new side effects that will require further intervention by Washington.

            So, check back with me in, oh, 2016 when prices are still rising and insurance for working families is even more expensive despite the subsidies. I’ll be saying “I told you so”.

          • One other note about a lot of PPACA’s cost saving provisions… They’re not actually cost savers, they are revenue generators for the government to offset costs. From a broader economic viewpoint (not the FedGov’s balance sheet), these should not be considered cost savings at all, since that money is not available for other uses by the economic actors it was taxed from.

            Back to education, the real question in my mind is whether or not the benefits delivered by the tripled spend in education are worth it. I’m still not convinced.

          • Roger Sweeny says:

            Yes, PPACA has taken away some cost containment features of the pre-PPACA system, but they wouldn’t have made much difference. As long as medical bills are paid mostly by insurance, prices will keep going up. No patient has an incentive to consider the cost of a visit, test, or procedure, and doctors are socialized to do “whatever is necessary.” Indeed, that’s what people want, as long as they aren’t directly paying for it.

            Medical costs will only be contained if people are forced to make the decision they make when they buy food or a car or myriad other things: “Is this worth what I will have to pay?”

          • It is far more nuanced than you are articulating. But you are not interested in the truth, just in cheerleading fir your side.

            When you take economic reality and the principles of insurance and apply them to this law, it fails utterly. The Democrats, who rammed this thing down the people’s throats despite our opposition, will do anything to prevent that truth from being told. They control the media narrative, and they will make sure that the inevitable prices hikes and care shortages are blamed on everything but the PPACA.

            It’s already happened, you know. Look at how quiet they’ve been on the CLASS Act. DHHS Secretary Sebelius has come out and said it’s impossible to implement due to adverse selection driving premiums through the roof, yet the President and Senate Democrats refuse to repeal it. The media? I’ve heard barely a peep out of them.

            By the way, in 2014 the rest of the health insurance market will be hit by the same adverse selection problem when insurers are no longer allowed to decline or price by pre-existing health status and not allowed to impose annual spending limits. Insurers are still legally required under PPACA to meet their financial obligations, and they’ll need to collect enough premium from their insureds to do so. For healthy young people, it’ll probably make more sense to pay the fine and skip preventive care rather than pay those inflated premiums.

            This law is so badly crafted that logical, fact-based criticisms of it could fill entire books. It’s going to be a disaster. To believe otherwise is to disavow everything we know about economics and just hope like hell. That’s the truth people need to hear.

  4. Right-wing talking point of the day.

    Why is looking at the results gotten per taxpayer dollar a right-wing talking point, exactly?

    Oh, right. Because the left just wants the taxpayer to shut up and pay. What they get for the money is irrelevant. That it was taken from them for a higher purpose is all that counts.

    • FACT: Taxes today are at the LOWEST levels in modern US history, and are far below every other industrialized Western country.

      • Your fact is irrelevant. (Again, I’m gathering that reading comprehension is not your strong suit.)

        The government collects taxpayer dollars to do a number of things laid out by law. When it spent X on that thirty years ago and spend 3X on that today for apparently the same result, I believe it’s only fair to look at whether the taxpayer is getting a fair shake.

        The position of the left (and I’m particularly sensitive to it since I’m a taxpayer in California) is that once the money allocated was spent, the only answer is to take more from the taxpayer. Were it not for the 2/3 majority required by Prop 13, goodness only knows where CA’s tax rates would be by now.

      • Stacy in NJ says:

        FACT: The USA has more progressive tax rates than France, Germany, Belgium or the UK. Obviously we need to tax the middle class more.

    • Quincy,

      I should have been a little more specific. Ladner belongs to all the right wing organizations, including the CAt Institute.

      I feel anything he has to say is just generated for the right wingers to spout for the day.

  5. Mike, anytime you feel that your life would improve if you had fewer choices, you could use this simple strategy: list your choices alpgabetically, and delete all choices after “N” (or “D” if you really enjoy the simple life). Or, before you enter the grocery store, restrict yourself to products that begin with the letters “Q,W,E,R,T,Y,U,I,O,P”. Just don’t presume that others wish to be so constrained.

  6. Matthew Ladner says:


    I have spent some time looking around the Federal Reserve systems website for cost data on services, and I haven’t found anything on point yet. If anyone does, please let me know.

    The point of the post isn’t that we should expect the same trend in education that we see in other areas of the economy, but that we see precisely the opposite trend in a very dramatic fashion.

  7. Lightly Seasoned says:

    Education is labor intensive, and it can’t be outsourced to Elbonia, unlike manufacturing. Labor costs are harder to control, especially with the astronomical increases in insurance costs. Everything else has been stripped down to the bare basics — buildings are barely maintained, classroom furniture is medieval, supplies are rationed, books are reused until chunks begin falling out of them.

    I think society actually is getting a lot more for its money in education when one considers the huge increase in special ed students we are working with. Those children used to be in institutions, which aren’t cheap (we have two in our district that really push the envelope in terms of the mentally ill children they think can handle a general ed environment — because it is much, much cheaper to send them to us than educate them on their self-contained campus).

    • Stacy in NJ says:

      Educational fads have cost untold millions in wasted resources. As an incoming freshman my son received three new expensive textbooks this year. They want to purchase tablets next year and get rid of all texts. What will they do with the couple hundred newest versions of The American Pageant at a cost $130 each?

      Just as a reminder, here’s a picture of what happens in school districts with limited resources:http://www.flickr.com/photos/sweetjuniper/2050169064/in/set-72157603302647339

      Budget cuts in our district have forced them to do away with two languages. Instead of 6, we’ll now have 4. Boo-hoo. Cry me a river.

      • Lightly Seasoned says:

        They’ll sell the used textbooks to a textbook reseller and my district will pick them up for about $60 each. And we’ll keep our 6 languages. Winning!

        • Stacy in NJ says:

          Fantastic, your district is winning. Your complaint about the lack of funds and books falling apart is? inaccurate? pointless? a strawman?

          • Lightly Seasoned says:

            Well, the old set of American Pageant *is* falling apart — we bought them 12 years ago.

            The point is that many districts are cutting budgets where they can be cut. What did I say that was not accurate? I happen to spend my department’s budget every year. I don’t have a lot of wiggle room when it comes to book prices. One gives me a major break on shipping since we’re in town. I use resellers when I can. We use almost exclusively novel sets now because the anthologies are getting more and more absurd. And yes, I use novels sets that are 30 or so years old (Vinaclad is awesome). I would not be upset if my child were issued a brand new chemistry book; her current text is missing several elements on the periodic table.

            And, honestly, I would be sad to see any academic department cut — including our 6 languages. We had two students in the top ten on the National Latin Exam this year. It’s just one teacher, and I guess we could save about $60K in his salary and benefits and not have a Latin program. That’s your idea of improving education? Cutting academic programs and using out-of-date text books?

          • Stacy in NJ says:

            Lightly Seasoned,

            My idea of improving education is to make it more flexible and accountable. Schools should actually meet the needs of their students. Students and parents should have the responsibility of making choices and decisions about their own needs instead of relying of the state to do that for them.

            One of your original points was that budgets have been stripped down to the basics. Again, that maybe true for your district, but it’s not for many others. Your district is using resources thoughtfully and your academic standards are high? Great. I love to hear it. But the thread isn’t specifically about your school district or mine.

            **Rant on: Mine, by the way, issued 3 new texts at the beginning of the year (biology, Am. history, and Algebra II) which will be shelved in 1-2 years. I paid $17,000 in property taxes last year; our annual per pupil cost is nearly $11,000. Apparently, there’s no economy of scale in public education in New Jersey. Our school’s performance, like many in East Coast bedroom communities, was decent – not great. We suffer from parents too eager to throw money at problems that aren’t necessarily solvable with more resources. Money can be a crutch. **Rant off

            My point is that there are many districts that use their resources poorly. The Abbott districts in New Jersey are a wonderful example of squandered resources, squandered opportunities. I wonder why the folks in Detroit failed to re-sell the tens of thousands of textbooks abandoned in their depository. Incompetency and corruption probably.

            I doubt very much that charters, vouchers, or online education are the panacea that will solve educational problems in the US, but they are the thin wedge that will crack the stagnant status quo. They will break the unions and reduce labor costs. And union leaders and teachers know this to be true – that’s why some hate them. Some cannot be bothered to hate them; they just think that thing will remain the same as it ever was. This desire to break the union isn’t an indictment of teachers, really. The unions are just the glue that holds the entire crap pile together. Generally, schools are expensive and mediocre or expensive and shitty. We can do better. We need competition.

            It doesn’t take a Nostradamus to realize that we’re approaching a tipping point regarding attitudes toward public education. The attitude shift isn’t about just recognizing we’re at an end game with the current public school structure, it’s also about realizing that parents and students also need to be held accountable for their actions and decisions.

    • I think society actually is getting a lot more for its money in education when one considers the huge increase in special ed students we are working with.


      I’ve heard this argument any number of times, and on the surface it sounds like a legitimate driver of cost. However, I’m still struggling with the idea that the increase in Special Ed students is responsible for even a large chunk of the tripling of spend relative to results.

      A quick thought experiement. You have a student population of 100. In 1980, $500,000 was spent to educate them ($5,000 / student). There are no special ed students. In 2010, there are 90 non-SPED student and 10 SPED students for whom $1,500,000 was spent. It still takes $5,000 / student to educate non-SPED, meaning $450,000 was spent on the non-SPED population. That leaves $1,005,000 for the SPED population, or $100,500 / student.

      The math there makes me suspect that more is going on, but I might be wrong on my assumptions as well.

      • Until the de-institutionalization movement, which started sometime in the 70s, severely handicapped kids didn’t enter the educational system at all. Some were in institutions and some, like the Downs’ Syndrome kid who lived in my town, were kept at home. When I visited the state training school, many of the kids there, simply diagnosed as “retarded”, exhibited classic autistic behavior and would now be in school. In neither case was their care/training part of the education budget. Those kids at the far left of the curve are only a small percentage of the total, but their per-pupil cost is multiples more than the “average.” Admittedly, there are far fewer Downs’ Syndrome kids, but I doubt that balances the numbers.

        Also, it is really not possible to compare “insurance” costs from 1975 to now. In 1975, the term “insurance” meant a major medical policy. Office visits, lab/radiology/other tests and medications simply weren’t covered. It’s like comparing a band-aid to a long-leg cast, if not a full-body cast. In addition, the technology costs have exploded, because so much more is possible.

        • Lightly Seasoned says:

          Well, it is possible to compare insurance just as cost. A policy cost x in 1975 and costs far more now. I agree the definition of a good insurance policy has changed utterly.

          Our SPED pop is more 20% – 25% of the student body.

          Also, we graduate about 98%. That 15% – 20% who used to drop out in 10th grade cost a FORTUNE to coax through credit recovery, etc. Our state mandated 4 credits of English to graduate. We had to add 1 1/2 English positions to accomodate the 4th year that some didn’t take (usually SPED, vocational types) and courses for students who failed a semester or so.

          It all adds up.

          • LS,

            Interesting point regarding the graduation rate. Pushing graduation for all has been attributed to an increase in higher education spending, but I hadn’t thought about how it impacted the K-12 system.

            Given that other regulations have made hiring a non-HS-grad a dicey proposition for employers, I guess the system is stuck with that mission even if it doesn’t make a lot of sense.

          • There has also a continuous stream of illegal immigrants, mostly from or through Mexico, entering the country and such kids are notably high-cost to educate. They, and their families, tend not to speak English, don’t have much academic/general knowledge background, are likely to change schools often, and many are of the criminal persuasion (MS13 and others). The situation ensures a continual stream of entrants at the bottom end of the spectrum. This, too, has contributed to the devaluation of a HS diploma in terms of actual knowledge and skills, while requiring the paper diploma – even if the kids can’t read it.

        • In the past, there were far fewer preemies and the ones born really early and/or at low birthweights tended not to make it. The good news is that modern medicine now allows many of those preemies to survive. The flip side to that is that many of those preemies wind up with some sort of disability and require special ed.

          Additionally, the better diagnosis of autism spectrum disorders has dramatically increased costs. In the past, my youngest child would’ve just been seen as a “late talker” and quirky. Today, she is recognized as autistic and is eligible for expensive preschool with a 1:2 teacher:student ratio, speech therapy, occupational therapy, etc. As a taxpayer, I actually think that families like ours should have a cost-share for IEP services the same way we have a cost-share with our health insurance. That would discourage pushy parents from abusing the system. If you aren’t willing to foot a portion of the bill, then obviously your child doesn’t really need whatever it is you want the schools to provide.

  8. “Can’t be outsourced”? We disagree. That’s what virtual schools do. There’s a simple way to test the NEA/AFT/AFSCME cartel’s assessments of the materal requirements of “education”: “You cut; I choose”. Whatever they claim to need, give them that, on the condition that any district which receives tax support must hire parents on personal service contracts at 2/3 of the regular-ed per pupil budget, to provide for their own children’s education. Make payment conditional on performance at or above age-level expectations on standardized tests of reading comprehension, reading vocabulary, and Math. Place no conditions on how they get the job done (homeschool, tutors, private school). There’s no reason your child’s tutor cannot operate from an office in Mumbai.

    • Lightly Seasoned says:

      You’re a hoot, Malcolm.

      • Anyone can see the point: whatever level of support the cartel’s schools claims to need. proponents of educational choice say: “Wanna bet? A competitive market will deliver better, cheaper.” Or not. If it’s not possible, it won’t happen. But we have abundant evidence that markets improve quality and lower costs, generally and in direct proportion to the degree of competition. We also have for the advantages of institutional options in the education industry.

        • The problem is the cost of educating any particular individual child may be more or less… of course, educating a well-adjusted upper-middle class kid with an intact home and two educated parents will be relatively cheaper. All your “system” will do will siphon off the easily educable. But the mission of our public education system is to educate ALL children, without regard to socioeconomic status, race, disability, etc.

          I certainly agree that the education bureaucracy could use significant trimming, but your facile plan is rigged to compare apples to oranges.

          • However, we need to recognize that it is impossible to educate those who refuse to expend any effort, let alone those who actively reject education. We now require kids who would have dropped out in my era to remain in school, where they are all too likely to make learning impossible for others. School has become babysitting. In addition, The old saying, “You can lead a horse to water, but you can’t make him drink” is reality-based.

            We also need to recognize that it is impossible to educate the severely disabled. Or, are you going to argue that a kid with a mental age of 1 year belongs in a regular HS classroom? Neither his teacher nor his “classmates” thought so; the disruption level was just what one would expect.

          • educating a well-adjusted upper-middle class kid with an intact home and two educated parents will be relatively cheaper.

            Why shouldn’t such parents be rewarded for the work they’re doing?  Blindingly obvious insight:  maybe we should stop paying the low-skilled and unemployable to make zillions of babies, and ask those who actually keep our system going to supply its next generation?

            All your “system” will do will siphon off the easily educable.

            The fact that the cost of the “inclusive” system escalates without bound while failing to improve results shows the superior wisdom of times past. Group by ability, punish bad conduct, flunk out or expel the worse cases.

          • Stacy in NJ says:

            “The problem is the cost of educating any particular individual child may be more or less… of course, educating a well-adjusted upper-middle class kid with an intact home and two educated parents will be relatively cheaper”

            This would make sense if at the end of that education the lower SES child had been brought up to the same educational standard as the higher SES child. But, generally, that doesn’t happen, so the extra resources spent may or may not have had any significant end affect

          • (Jab): “The problem is the cost of educating any particular individual child may be more or less… of course, educating a well-adjusted upper-middle class kid with an intact home and two educated parents will be relatively cheaper. All your “system” will do will siphon off the easily educable. But the mission of our public education system is to educate ALL children, without regard to socioeconomic status, race, disability, etc.

            Several rebuttals come to mind.

            1. There is no such thing as “the cost of educating any particular individual child”. The direct cost to taxpayers of this system is whatever budget system insiders convince legislators to give them (we ingnore opportunity costs to students, lost lifetime productivity, lost innovation that a competitive market would generate, and losses due to crime the cost of incarcerating the system’s failures). Districts spend more on some children than they spend on others. Most children could learn to read and compute for far less than we currently spend.
            2. Nothing in my proposal would bar school districts from contracting out sp-ed kids at 2/3 of their individual cost. For the average kid, the district makes money with every 2/3 average cost contract with parents. For sp-ed kids , the district makes money with every 2/3 sp-ed cost contract. Again: “You cut, I choose”. You say __X__ (some child) is more expensive to educate? Let’s test that proposition.
            3. Some districts already contract out the care of severely disabled children.
            4. Many of the learning disabilities we observe, that make some children more costly to educate, are caused by the hare-brained, ham-fisted, one-size-fits-all methods and curriculum of the current institutional environment.

            5. If the mission of the NEA/AFT/AFSCME cartel’s school system (your “public” school system) is to educate “all” students, it’s doing a lousy job.

          • > But the mission of our public education system is to educate ALL children, without regard to socioeconomic status, race, disability, etc.

            Uh, no. It isn’t.

            The mission of the public education system is build facilities, buy supplies and pay employees. Whether education actually occurs has always been assumed to be the natural outcome of those expenditures.

            Boy, talk about an object lesson about the error of assuming!

            If the mission of the public education system is to educate at all then there’d be some attention given to whether the mission’s being accomplished. You feel free to reveal the mechanism whereby that’s being determined.

    • Stacy in NJ says:

      Malcolm, I homeschool my 7th grade son who has Asperger’s syndrome and love your proposal. I’m in. If he were in public school setting, he’d be an expensive kid. Setting aside the issue of my lost income due to staying at home – and I recognize this as an issue for others-, my cost to educate him is miniscule. Also, both my husband and I vote.