Teacher benefits are eroding pay

Teacher Benefits Are Eating Away at Salaries, writes Chad Aldeman on The Quick and the Ed.

Public school districts spent less per student in 2010-11 than the year before, the first decline in nearly four decades, the Public Education Finances Report confirms.

The report also shows that “employee benefits continue to take on a rising share of district expenditures,” writes Aldeman. From 2001 to 2011, public education spending increased 49 percent: Salaries went up 37 percent and benefits 88 percent. “Benefits now eat up more than 20 percent of district budgets, or $2,262 per student, and those numbers are climbing,” he writes.

Unfunded pension and health care promises total $1.38 trillion, Pew estimates.

All your children belong to us

Is This the Creepiest Show Promo MSNBC Has Ever Run? asks Mike Riggs on Reason’s Hit & Run. Host Melissa Harris-Perry said:

We have never invested as much in public education as we should have because we’ve always had a private notion of children, your kid is yours and totally your responsibility. We haven’t had a very collective notion of these are our children.

So part of it is we have to break through our kind of private idea that kids belong to their parents or kids belong to their families and recognize that kids belong to whole communities.

Once it’s everybody’s responsibility and not just the household’s we start making better investments.

Hillary Clinton “made this same point more digestible for the public by ladling on warm-fuzzy sauce about a “village” raising a child,” writes Riggs.

Here’s your counterpoint, from 2011, on whether the U.S. is “investing” enough in education. Another half-trillion or so ought to turn things around, I think. No wonder Ron Paul’s getting into home-schooling.

Harris-Perry, a political science professor at Tulane, has a daughter. Or, I guess you could say that a female child with some of Harris-Perry’s genes belongs to the New Orleans collective.

Mo’ butter

Norway’s butter shortage illustrates the dangers of monopoly control, argues Andrew Coulson on Cato @ Liberty. The Christmas baking season is at risk for lack of butter. Russian smugglers are trying to bring black-market butter across the border.

Norway’s butter monopolist, Tine, is protected from foreign competitors by government-imposed import tariffs, writes Coulson. That’s why neighboring Sweden has plenty of butter at lower prices.

Angry Norwegians are threatening to dump the butter monopoly. Meanwhile, the U.S. has “its own $600 billion per year government protected monopoly that makes Tine look like small potatoes,” writes Coulson.

Stossel on ‘Stupid in America’

John Stossel’s Stupid in America, which criticizes the “K-12 monopoly,” will air tonight on Fox at 10 EDT. Education spending has soared since 1970, while reading, math and science achievement has remained about the same, Stossel reports.
Cost of Education Graph

Hey, big spender

The U.S. spends more on education than any OECD country except for Switzerland, according to Veronique de Rugy, a Mercatus Center senior research fellow.  The U.S. spends an average of $91,700 per student between the ages of six and 15, a third more than high-scoring Finland, she estimates.

Uneducated perhaps, but not unfunded

If you want accurate information on education spending, rely on comedian Jon Stewart’s Daily Show not on New York Times columnist Paul Krugman, writes Andrew J. Coulson on Cato @ Liberty.

In The Uneducated American, economist Krugman writes that, “for the past 30 years our political scene has been dominated by the view that any and all government spending is a waste of taxpayer dollars.” As a result, U.S. education has been “neglected” and “has inevitably suffered.”

Spending per student “has more than doubled since 1970, after adjusting for inflation,” Coulson responds.

Paul Krugman may not be an “uneducated American,” but he’s certainly a badly misinformed one.

Coulson wondered how Jon Stewart, the most trusted news source, handled the issue. In the Daily Show’s on-line forum, he found a commenter’s claim that spending per pupil has risen by a factor of 10 since 1945, after adjusting for inflation.

That’s not too far off the mark. The actual multiple is just under 8. So folks who get their facts from the Daily Show’s website will be better informed on this subject than those who trust the Nobel Prize winning New York Times economist.

Higher public school spending doesn’t spur economic growth, Coulson adds, because higher spending doesn’t lead to higher academic achievement.

Schools average $9,666 per student

Public schools spent an average of $9,666 per student in 2007, an increase of 5.8 percent from the previous year, the Census reports. The federal share was 8.3 percent.

New York schools spend the most per student ($15,981) while Utah sepnds the least ($5,683). “Also in the top three were New Jersey at $15,691 per pupil and Washington, D.C. at $14,324,” reports the New York Times.

The stimulus funds will stimulate the appetite for more federal education spending, predicted Russ Whitehurst, director of the Brown Center on Education Policy and a senior fellow at the Brookings Institution.

”Once you start giving money to people, you create the appetite for more. I think the 2009 numbers will be a lot different than the 2007 ones,” Whitehurst said.

In Louisiana, 17.6 percent of education funding comes from Washington; in New Jersey, it’s only 4 percent.