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Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Chart of the Day: Education and Spending

Since the topic in one of the comment threads has turned to education, I thought I'd put this chart up.  I may have used it before, but I can't remember.



Yes, yes, yes, I know, careful dissection of the data behind this chart coupled with alternate assumptions and premises could lead one to conclude this chart is an exaggeration, but education spending and actual educational outcomes have been at least somewhat decoupled for a half-century.

That delta $100,000+ in spending also should give us pause. Many of the recipients would likely, in my opinion, be better off with that money invested for them rather than spent trying to educate them.

14 comments:

Clovis e Adri said...

Very interesting, Bret.

The enrollment line really surprises me: your population surely grew up from the 70's on, yet enrollment went down most of that time. All those extra kids went to private schools?

Given news like this one (the video is heartbreaking), I am inclined to say that Erp got much right when complaining about present day schools, but for one thing: if Unions are all that powerful, Erp, why that teacher is so afraid to lose his job to not even defend himself?

Clovis e Adri said...

Bret,

Please, if you can find it, I'd like to see analogous charts for (i) private schools and (ii) higher education.

I think the costs inflation will be similar. If so, there is something more fundamental here than just a story about ballooning public spending.

erp said...

Clovis, I don't watch videos unless they are of kittens or puppies, so I don't know to what you are referring?

Unions only protect those who agree with their policies, so my guess is that's probably why they aren't protecting the teacher in question.

Bret said...

Clovis wrote: "I think the costs inflation will be similar."

Sure.

Clovis wrote: "...there is something more fundamental here than just a story about ballooning public spending."

Yes, the more fundamental thing is the misguided concept that more resources (beyond a certain point) means more education. It doesn't matter if it's private/public/lower/upper/etc. We're not gonna get Einsteins outta idiots no matter how much we spend and spending more doesn't look like a useful method to "solve" the problems of "lack" of education based on past experience.

This is true at the college level as well (or perhaps especially at the college level), so encouraging lots of people to get college degrees to go on and become shoe salesmen is particularly ridiculous in my opinion, especially when they won't actually be particularly well educated anyway.

BTW, Not sure why enrollment has the dip, but it seems to be consistent across various sources of enrollment data. It may have something to do with the so-called "Baby Boom" and the ensuing "Baby Bust," but I'm not sure.

erp said...

Inflation is the red-headed-stepchild of U.S. politics. I don't know how much family shopping you guys do, but every time I go to the grocery store, I am stunned. I'm sure glad not to be feeding teenage boys and their friends anymore.

The utility bills seem to creep higher every time I look at them.

Last night my husband announced that our income tax bill is several thousand higher than last year although our income is basically static. Not sure why people aren't complaining unless everyone thinks they're the only ones affected.

There are so very many issues that the newly elected majority in congress can bring to public attention, it’s too bad there is so little will to do anything but make snide remarks about each other and there’s absolutely no one on the horizon riding a white horse coming to our rescue.

Hey Skipper said...

"What strikes me is that the teacher never even defended himself," retired JFK teacher Lee McNulty told the paper. "That just shows how much teachers are afraid of losing their job."

Incompetence, sloth, pederasty are nowhere sufficient reason to fear getting fired.

Tee off on a student who richly deserves it, though, and there will be h∃ll to pay. (Also, the teacher was very likely smart enough to figure out that he would be carried to victory on the wings of other students' cell phones.)

---

In the ten years from 2001 to 2010, Anchorage School District spending per pupil doubled (page 133 in report) from $8800 to $16,500.

Student performance didn't budge.

Peter said...

I'd be very interested in knowing what percentage of the increased costs can the attributed to the expansion of educational bureaucracy and "experts" commanding from above. I suspect a lot. We know all about the sins of teachers unions and bad teachers with tenure, but we should be careful about seeing teachers as a lightening rod for the whole mess just because they are so visible. Many of them, notably the good ones, are groaning under the weight of a huge bureaucracy imposing all kinds of curriculum, pedagogical and behavioural nonsense they are compelled to follow.

The other impediment to high standards is modern parents, many of whom have bought into the therapeutic culture. My wife teaches grade four in a small, non-hoity-toity private school that attracts a lot of both local and embassy enrollments. She combines no-nonsense expectations with absolute commitment to her kids (I could boast about her all day, and often do) and is much loved and respected by both her pupils and their parents. But she and I are constantly amazed at how much time she must spend with North American and European parents talking about psychological issues, happiness, peer popularity, counseling, stress etc. Much of her time is spent playing the role of an amateur therapist or even a family counselor with parents who really don't seem terribly concerned about academic achievement and don't seem to have high demands. She thinks most of it is a crock, but that's the job. By contrast, parents from former third world countries in Latin America, the Middle East, Asia and even Africa tend to be very focused on academic success and proper behavior and don't really seem terribly concerned about whether their child is happy or popular or challenged or whatever other word Oprah is using this week. Guess who wins most of the prizes.

erp said...

Peter, of course most teachers and all the good ones "groan under the weight of ...". My point is that the unions in cahoots with the rest of the ed-biz megalith run the show and individual teachers are afraid for their jobs if the demur against even the most ridiculous new rules and regs.

Shout Out:

I can't wait for Harry to reveal the name and location of the public school district in the United States the teachers' unions have not as yet contaminated.

Bret said...

Peter wrote: "...what percentage of the increased costs can the attributed to the expansion of educational bureaucracy and "experts" commanding from above. I suspect a lot."

Probably. At the university level that and physical plant enhancements are the big cost drivers.

Peter wrote: "...with parents who really don't seem terribly concerned about academic achievement ... [by] contrast, parents from former third world countries in Latin America, the Middle East, Asia and even Africa tend to be very focused on academic success and proper behavior"

Once upon a time, I got professionally involved in the education thang from the angle of having AI computers teach and even ended up writing a chapter for a book. What I learned from my research and interactions was that there are really only three major factors that predict educational outcomes:

1. Culture/Parental involvement. If a kid grows up in a home where the parents are always reading and learning and discussing and debating and figuring and also read to their kid and work to instill insatiable curiosity in the kid, the kid will learn a huge amount, no matter what, almost completely regardless of the school the kid attends and its resources. If the kid grows up in a household where the parents and extended family don't much care about learning, the kid won't learn much regardless of school and resources. There are exceptions, but they're fairly rare.

2. Intelligence, which is different than IQ but happens to correlate with it. A kid with the intelligence associated with an IQ of 70 is just not usually going to learn as much as a kid with an IQ of 130, pretty much no matter how you try to teach them.

3. Tutoring versus teaching. One-on-one learning is far more effective than a lecture format and this is probably the reason that home schooling, which is one-on-one by a completely untrained teacher, is competitive with classroom learning by a trained teacher. Once you're teaching 5 kids in a lecture format, you might as well teach 50 because the vast majority of kids aren't going to ask questions or otherwise interact anyway. Reduced class size initiatives have always been a cruel joke that produce really small results. In other words, they help a tiny bit, but the kids would be better off having the delta costs plopped into a bank account rather than squandered on more teachers.

Note that increased school spending doesn't affect 1 & 2 at all. It affects 3, but class size matters very little.

Thus, this post's chart is not surprising.

Clovis e Adri said...

Bret & Erp,

---
Note that increased school spending doesn't affect 1 & 2 at all. It affects 3, but class size matters very little.
---
Likewise, school spending also does not affect much "civil virtues", which is the main thing Erp finds lacking today as far as I understand her.

That's mostly affected by your item 1 alone. Which is also the reason it wouldn't be greatly enhanced by homeschooling.

Conclusion: schools have little to do with that perceived downfall of civic values, with all the talk about "liberal indoctrination" being thin air. Do you still disagree, Erp?

Bret said...

Clovis wrote: '...school spending also does not affect much "civil virtues"'

I agree. Additional spending probably makes no difference at all.


Clovis wrote: "Which is also the reason it wouldn't be greatly enhanced by homeschooling."

If one's hypothesis is that the schools are actively working against "good" "virtues," then, of course, homeschooling would be helpful. In order to debate that, we'd have to define "good," "virtue," "actively," "working against," etc. and that in itself would be quite a long discussion.

What I'll say without bothering to define any of that is that in households with strong learning parenting, the schools make no difference at all in the "civil virtues" of the children. In households where the children are more or less cast adrift as far as civil virtues go, the schools probably make some difference (either in the positive or negative direction). Since homeschooling households are probably mostly the strong learning variety, homeschooling probably doesn't much matter as far as civil virtues go.

Clovis wrote: "Conclusion..."

That's quite a leap. Again, for those kids who are cast adrift, the schools probably make a difference. Add that up across generations, coupled with the entire population being bombarded by the media, and it can make quite a difference in my opinion.

Bret said...

An interesting perspective...

http://www.thefederalistpapers.org/education-2/middle-school-reading-lists-100-years-ago-vs-today-show-how-far-american-educational-standards-have-declined

erp said...

Bret, my point exactly and IMO and the opinion of many others, the curriculum has been dumbed down so far now, many kids know absolutely nothing about our history or culture, but are fed a constant stream of left wing propaganda with the U.S. the villain in the piece.

The only way this could have been possible is by unifying all the public schools districts in the country through the teachers' unions who in collaboration with the rest of the left wing establishment has created three generations of uninformed and worse still, misinformed citizens.

Along the way, the edbiz has also lined its pockets with many billions from taxpayers.

Harry, still waiting .......

Howard said...

The trends in administrative bloat and disproportionate spending increase were already evident in the the data before and leading up to the early 1970s. I had the occasion to study that as part of an independent study project in high school. As per the role of teacher's unions in blocking reforms:

There appears to be a great awakening across the ideological spectrum to the fact that primary and secondary education is failing badly and that the entrenched enemies of reform — the teachers' unions — are much too powerful. The unions are a key impediment to much-needed education reforms. Everyone knows it and now more people are willing to say it out loud.

...like erp was saying.