A beautifully told story with colorful characters out of epic tradition, a tight and complex plot, and solid pacing. -- Booklist, starred review of On the Razor's Edge

Great writing, vivid scenarios, and thoughtful commentary ... the stories will linger after the last page is turned. -- Publisher's Weekly, on Captive Dreams

Tuesday, May 23, 2017

Much is Hereby Explained

From 1980 to 2014, student headcount in public schools increased 22.6% while expenditures increased by a mere 115.2%  (in constant dollars)

The increased expenditures went to purchase more
130.0% more Instructional Aides (whoever they are)
 88.1% more School District Administrative Staff
 63.1% more Principles/Assistant Principles
 63.0 % more Guidance Counselors
 43.4% more Teachers
 40.0% more Support Staff
  7.1% fewer Librarians

The United States Department of Education began operating on May 4, 1980.


  1. Gosh, it's almost like the Department of Education isn't actually meant to educate anybody, but instead is a giant make-work project designed to create millions of employees who can be counted on to vote in favor of government make-work projects.

    That would also explain - hypothetically, of course - why we're in a permanent state of needing education reform. If it ever achieved a stable form, there's be no reason to keep increasing spending.

  2. As a classroom teacher in a government-run high school, a couple things occur to me to suggest. First, the lower student/teacher ratios implied in the chart are probably a good thing for educating kids; the lower student/all-other-government-personnel ratios, not so much. Second, from the same source of your statistics, you’ll find that while inflation-adjusted public school per pupil spending has increased 27% from 1992 to 2014, spending on teacher salaries has actually decreased (-2%) in that same period. Finally, bear in mind that since the anti-poverty, anti-discrimination, and pro-immigration laws of the 60s and 70s (and court decisions of more recent vintage) have taken effect, government-run schools are required to educate virtually every child in a regular education classroom setting (“least restrictive environment”) – ESL students, disabled students, truant students, delinquent students, homeless students, parentless students, etc. (thus, the instructional aides you wondered about). Those same schools are mandated to produce test results satisfactory to the national government following a national standard or risk a stigmatizing designation and/or loss of funding. This is not an ideal business model.

    I’d suggest eliminating compulsory education altogether and putting education in the hands of the marketplace. Don’t tell my employer.

  3. Way back when US News & World Report was a real magazine, they had a cover story on the infrastructure problems of America's older school systems, using Cincinnati as a case study. They started the overly long article by profiling someone identified as the Assistant Superintendent for Building Maintenance for the school district. I say the article was overly long, because the main problem with aging school buildings in Cincinnati could be summed up in the fact that they have an Assistant Superintendent for Building Maintenance. Follow the money.

  4. Golly, Mr. TOF, I think they have 63.1% fewer principles than they used to, but 63.1% more principals.

  5. Just for the sake of 'normalizing' the rest of these numbers, from 1980 to 2014, the US population increased by 41%, and the GDP has roughly doubled in constant dollars. . .

  6. thefederalist: "I say the article was overly long, because the main problem with aging school buildings in Cincinnati could be summed up in the fact that they have an Assistant Superintendent for Building Maintenance. Follow the money."

    No one ever got his name on a bronze plaque for maintaining existing school buildings. To get your name on the bronze plaque, you have to be involved in the decision to build a new school building.

    TOF: "The United States Department of Education began operating on May 4, 1980."

    But, consider all the progress that has been made. For instance, when I graduated high school in 1975, I had *no idea* how to apply a condom.

    1. And as we're learning here in Lansing, it's cheaper to build new than to repair the old.
      Of course it is.
      And the old one doesn't look like a prison.

    2. Indeed. "Defer" maintenance until it's cheaper (for some values of "cheaper") to build new than to repair the old, and you, too, can get your name on a bronze plaque.

  7. The "Instructional Aides" are probably the people who help my son (and his autistic classmates) get through the day.

    1. That was my thinking. Probable part of the EHA of 1975.


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