Friday, July 9, 2010

Questions on Education

Kate raised so many questions in her last comment on my last post that I thought I'd give them a try.

I don’t ever recall taking out a loan for my K – 12 education. That is not the education cost we are talking about here is it? 

I was amazed to find out that in Washington DC over $13000 $25000 is being spent per K-12 student (the highest in the country) and yet the schools are failing. Kate, you are taking out a loan when schools fail. It costs everyone when kids grow up and are not productive. So there are loans and there are loans... and they all cost us money. See the article in the NYTimes 7/9/2010 for more on expenses in education.

I think people pay for that early education in various other ways, but they don’t take out a personal $50,000 loan for the first semester of 8th grade. So while I would agree that teaching in the public education system seems like a very demanding job, I don’t think students getting personal loans from a bank to pay for education is a better alternative than collecting taxes to fund a public system to which more people have access.

Much of the public system is failing. Some are working their hearts out to improve it. Another alternative is to dispense the funds to the students, and let them and their parents choose where they will go to school. Competition is needed in the school marketplace. Though I have to admit that some of the charter and voucher schools have not done as well as I expected.

I think it is good to ask why the cost of a college education is so high when it seems that the current job market more and more requires people to have this costly education in order to work. Why do we have to buy financial security? 

Should financial security be an entitlement? Even if a country could afford that, I'm not sure it would promote either happiness or any other worthwhile accomplishment. Do you?

I do not believe that the only way to cut the cost of college education is to cut teacher salaries. (You are really going to have to work to prove that one to me.) Why is it that our society can offer K-12 public education, but huge personal cost keeps people from higher education? 

Oh, it is not just teacher salaries. There are many administrators and other staff. Too many people on the payroll. State universities and community colleges are largely supported by taxpayers, as are K-12 public schools. I think loan programs are a great way to give everyone a chance to obtain higher degrees. 

Why do some colleges not accept federal funding available to students? Might there be benefit to a college if they push loans from a given financial institution even if they are not in the best interest of a student? 

I know nothing about this... unless you are talking about some for-profit trade schools.

In a way, college education is mirroring the housing market. You got these educational institutions that are selling knowledge at a relatively high price and one can only obtain this knowledge if one takes out a loan. In many cases, you don’t have a ton of options as to what kind of loan you can get because the school dictates that; just like reverse redlining dictates what kind of loan you have to get in order to obtain shelter in a given area. And these kinds of situations lead to loans that in many cases are inflated and ridiculous.

Community colleges are a good option for many. I hope that educational institutions do more than sell knowledge. Knowledge is everywhere. There is more knowledge than air. What the institutions should be "teaching" is how to put you finger up in the air and feel which way the wind is blowing.

Thanks Kate! 

5 comments:

Kate said...

I don’t believe that Washington DC spends $13,000 per child. Don’t believe it. I went to Riverview. People made the same arguments about how much was spent per kid and yet the school was failing. Later down the line the state did an audit and found that this big figure per child wasn’t being spent on the children. It was being spent on over inflated contracts given to friends and family, extravagant trips for administrators and other staff, thousands of dollars in art work that ‘disappeared’, retirement investment fraud, etc. Then the courts sent people to prison. The school is still in . . . chaos.

I remember people picketing for months and months outside administrator’s homes. The kids protested and had walk outs that got portrayed as the precursor to gang violence in the media. People knew something was wrong. And it was bad.

So when I hear this $13,000 a child. . . It’s real hard for me to believe it. Count the dollars again.

Much of the public system is failing. --- Mr. Kim

Public schools in economically depressed neighborhoods are failing. Public schools in neighborhoods not experiencing economic depression (or oppression) are fine. If public school funding is tied to the amount of personal property taxes collected in an area, the school is only going to do as good as the rest of the area. So in a sense we are buying public education when we spend more money to live in a more prosperous neighborhood with better schools.

If a voucher program actually gave me the $13,000 that they claimed I was worth, I would consider a voucher program. But the voucher program that I heard about only gave you a few thousand. What kind of person pulls their kid out of a school that claims their kid is worth $13,000 and accepts a few thousand dollars to buy private education. You just decreased your kid’s value. And how much private education does a few thousand buy? Not much. The voucher program is a rip off.

Should financial security be an entitlement? --- Mr. Kim

Should financial dept be a requirement? Do you really feel I’m acting ‘entitled’ because I don’t think college education should cost so much? What is it when only those that can afford education have access to it? How is that not ‘entitlement’?

Even if a country could afford that, I'm not sure it would promote either happiness or any other worthwhile accomplishment. Do you?

Do you think taking out massive loans because a school recruiter says you can make $25 to $35 dollars an hour upon gradation is leading people to happiness? I ain’t saying money makes life wonderful. I am saying that a $50,000 loan with a 14% interest rate might cause unnecessary hardship.

Oh, it is not just teacher salaries. There are many administrators and other staff. Too many people on the payroll. State universities and community colleges are largely supported by taxpayers, as are K-12 public schools. I think loan programs are a great way to give everyone a chance to obtain higher degrees. --- Mr. Kim

But again, I’m not really complaining about the high loans people have to take for a public education. We are talking apples and oranges here. The director of University of Phoenix admitted on a PBS special that one fourth of their operating expense is marketing. I ain’t against loan programs. I’m against deceptive loans pushed on students for over-priced education that people view as a requirement to obtain gainful employment in our society.

I know nothing about this... unless you are talking about some for-profit trade schools. --- Mr. Kim

Right. . . Apples and oranges. . . The people that I know that got into serious trouble with school loans didn’t go to a community college. You’re talking about public school needing to be competitive like things are in a market economy. I’m talking about schools that are part of the market economy already.

Thx Mr. Kim

Kim Mosley said...

You are right, Kate. It is not $13000. It is $25000. And I suspect that if one counted the lost revenue in renting the physical plants it would be higher. And private schools might expend $10000 per student. See this article.

Anonymous said...

Mr Kim makes a stronger case, but that doesn't conclude he is right. H.

Kate said...

Again. . . I don’t believe that 80 to 90 percent of that $24000 per child budget is being spent on teacher salaries (as you suggested in an earlier post). Surely the cost of public education can be reduced other ways than by expecting teachers to teach more or make less.

And while I’m certain there is wasteful spending, I find this ‘despite high revenue, the public schools are failing’ argument weird. I don’t know but I would guess that the schools that are failing are not operating on as high a budget as the schools that are not failing. You cannot convince me that Cahokia public schools spend more money (just badly) than Ladue public schools.

But seriously, we can skip this whole voucher/scholarship thing to get kids out of a failing public school and just drive kids to the public schools nearby that are not failing.

You know. . . like bussing. . .

Bussing is a loaded word here. Wanna guess why?

They tried to stop bussing in Clayton recently. Students protested with a walk out . . . No mention of gang violence (Kate rolls her eyes) with this student protest.

Kim Mosley said...

You are right, Kate. Take a look at the NEA report (www.nea.org/assets/docs/010rankings.pdf)
Total revenue for 50 states for education is 629,116,595,000 and total salaries for teachers is 178,935,480,000 (pages 91,92 for salaries and page 95 for expenitures). This is 28%. At STLCC it was much greater than this. I'm going to have to look for that figure.