Transparency in Public Schools

Last week, Adam Schaeffer, a member of the CATO Institute, a non-profit public policy research foundation, published a paper entitled, “The REAL Cost of PublicSchools.” In it, he maintains that the per pupil expenditures submitted by educational administrators, “often leave out major costs of education and thus understate what is actually spent.” He reviewed districts in five major cities and found that, on average, the money they actually spent was more than 40% HIGHER than reported. “The gap between real and reported per-pupil spending ranges from a low of 23 percent in the Chicago area to a high of 90 percent in the Los Angeles metro region.” Furthermore, he found that public schools spend about 93% MORE than the median private schools in the same locations.
These statistics bring forth some very troubling questions: Where is the transparency on fiscal matters that the citizens deserve? Whose schools are these? After all, this is their tax money, so shouldn’t they know exactly how public officials use it? Why aren’t all of the costs transparent?
Studies have demonstrated no direct correlation between the amount of money allocated to student expenses and effectiveness of education. If that were actually the case, some of the public schools with the highest per pupil costs (NYC, for example) would outstrip all those with lower costs. That, however, is untrue. Has anyone asked why private schools, which offer lower teacher salaries, educate students more effectively? Could unions be implicated in the demise of public education? While good teachers certainly deserve the salaries they receive, many ineffectual teachers receive the same pay.
Take one prime example: New York City public schools. Some ineffective tenured teachers report to an administrative building to sit all day doing nothing. Yet they still receive their salaries and benefits, sometimes in excess of $100,000 a year! Meanwhile, trained, dedicated, qualified new teachers are receiving per diem pay with no benefits while they prepare lesson plans and provide instruction for the classes left behind. Administrators who try to rid their schools of these incompetent teachers face reams of paperwork and years of litigation. Any private enterprise that operated so ineptly would be defunct in short order. Why? Maybe it’s because the teachers’ union has a stranglehold on the schools.
Demand accountability and excellence in the public sector, especially in education!

One Response to “Transparency in Public Schools”

  1. Shofi

    Heidi,This is a truly beautiful and inisaratponil piece. I can relate whole-heartedly to your message, both as a parent and a teacher. Yes .our children are so precious. I often watch my daughter go off to school with her heavy back pack, looking like she’s carrying the cares of the world on her shoulders and wonder . How does she fit in? Do her teachers like her even a little? Will she feel successful, supported and encouraged by her teachers and peers?Then, as a teacher, yes . I try to create an environment that will nurture every child who comes into my room. There are times, however, when I feel I am inadequate for the huge task at hand. Sadly .no ..I don’t always reach my students. As hard as I try, I cannot provide for them in a way a parent’s interest in their well being, their education can do. There are many who experience so many obstacles to being happy and successful that come into our rooms .You have put an enormous challenge out to us all .parents and teachers alike. You have given us all something to think about in a unique and poignant way. Oh, if only all parents could express the same level of passion in their children’s education as you have for your children’s education. But while many parents are just trying to keep their lives afloat, at least they have you to be their spokesperson to speak up for their children. They are, after all, the whole reason behind what we do!Thank you, Heidi, for creating this and sharing it!

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