Sunday, October 03, 2010

Using old math on school budgets

Life as been tremendously busy. I took some time this morning to clear out the Firefox tabs of stuff I intended to get to but just haven't had time to read. Among those was this funny from JUNE! (I told you I was behind.)

Here's a snip from P.J. O'Rourke's "The Weekly Standard" entry for June 21, 2010 entitled "End Them, Don't Mend Them":

There are other numbers that make better sense. As of 2006—of course the numbers are out of date—4,615,000 people were employed full-time by some 13,000 school districts (although if school districts used the same definition of “full-time” as the rest of us the number we’re talking about would be zero). Of these 4,615,000 there are 300,000 “clerical and secretarial staff” filling out No Child Left Behind paperwork and wondering why 64,000 “officials, administrators” aren’t doing it themselves, which they aren’t because they’re busy doing the jobs that 125,000 “principals and assistant principals” can’t because they’re supervising 383,000 “other professional staff” who are flirting with the 483,000 “teachers’ aides” who are spilling trail mix and low-fat yogurt in the teacher’s lounge making a mess for the 726,000 “service workers” to clean up, never mind that the students should be pushing the brooms and swinging the Johnny mops so at least they’d come home with a practical skill and clean the bathroom instead of sitting around comprehending 29 percent of their iPhone text messages and staying awake all night because they can only count 31 percent of sheep.
Enough, however, of outrageous statistics. Let’s generate some pure outrage. Here’s my proposal: Close all the public schools. Send the kids home. Fire the teachers. Sell the buildings. Raze the U.S. Department of Education, leaving not one brick standing upon another and plow the land where it stood with salt.
“Wait a minute,” the earnest liberal says, “we’ve got swell public schools here in Flourishing Heights. The kids take yoga. We just brought in a law school placement coordinator at the junior high. The gym has solar panels on the roof. Our Girls Ultimate Frisbee team is third in the state. The food in the cafeteria is locally grown. And the vending machines dispense carrots and kiwi juice.”
Close them anyway. I’ve got 11,749 reasons. Or, given the Cato report, call it 15,000. Abandon the schools. Gather the kids together in groups of 15.4. Sit them down at your house, or the Moose Lodge, or the VFW Hall or—gasp—a church. Multiply 15.4 by $15,000. That’s $231,000. Subtract a few grand for snacks and cleaning your carpet. What remains is a pay and benefit package of a quarter of a million dollars. Average 2008 public school classroom teacher salary: $51,391. For a quarter of a million dollars you could hire Aristotle. The kids wouldn’t have band practice, but they’d have Aristotle. (Incidentally this worked for Philip of Macedon. His son* did very well.)
Sometimes you just have to laugh about the ridiculousness of the public school system or you will just sit down and cry-- again. The absolute waste of lives and resources should be criminal. It's not. It's rewarded over and over again. We're promised over and over again that THIS new program will fix the system and the children will exit the other end of this sausage factory physically, mentally and spiritually fit for adult responsibilities. They lie. It's broken and it won't be fixed with the same folks in charge using essentially the same tools with new labels. The only answer is more competition. More families voting with their feet and moving to other counties, other systems, staying home or going virtual. More power to them. The system's had far too much for far too long.

* Alexander The Great

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