Tag Archives: Education

Has increased education spending in schools improved student performance in test scores?

When I want a raise, I work harder, but these teachers hold up signs
When I want a raise, I work harder, but lazy teachers quit working to hold signs

One of my friends has been having a debate with one of his former teachers about whether spending more money on government-run education improves tests scores. He tried posting some evidence, but she just dismissed that by claiming:

  1. If we hadn’t spent more money, then the student test scores would have gone down instead of staying the same.
  2. Most of the money that government spends on education goes to vouchers and private schools, not public schools
  3. Economists at prestigious think tanks like that Cato Institute, the Heritage Foundation, and the American Enterprise Institute cannot be trusted to accurately cite the Bureau of Labor Statistics and the National Center for Education Statistics because of the Koch Brothers
  4. You can’t compare the test scores of American students with the test scores of Asian students who outperform them, (for less government spending), because math is different in Asia compared to America

Let’s look at some data and see if her arguments are correct.

Does more spending mean higher student performance?

National Review reported on data collected in the National Assessment of Educational Progress, which spans all 50 states.

Look:

Comparing educational achievement with per-pupil spending among states also calls into question the value of increasing expenditures. While high-spending Massachusetts had the nation’s highest proficiency scores on the National Assessment of Educational Progress, low-spending Idaho did very well, too. South Dakota ranks 42nd in per-pupil expenditures but eighth in math performance and ninth in reading. The District of Columbia, meanwhile, with the nation’s highest per-pupil expenditures ($15,511 in 2007), scores dead last in achievement.

The student test scores are dead last, but National Review notes that “according to the National Center for Education Statistics, Washington, D.C. was spending an average of $27,460 per pupil in 2014, the most recent year for which data are available.” They are spending the most per-pupil, but their test scores are dead last.

CBS News reported on another recent study confirming this:

Decades of increased taxpayer spending per student in U.S. public schools has not improved student or school outcomes from that education, and a new study finds that throwing money at the system is simply not tied to academic improvements.

The study from the CATO Institute shows that American student performance has remained poor, and has actually declined in mathematics and verbal skills, despite per-student spending tripling nationwide over the same 40-year period.

“The takeaway from this study is that what we’ve done over the past 40 years hasn’t worked,” Andrew Coulson, director of the Center For Educational Freedom at the CATO Institute, told Watchdog.org. “The average performance change nationwide has declined 3 percent in mathematical and verbal skills. Moreover, there’s been no relationship, effectively, between spending and academic outcomes.”

The study, “State Education Trends: Academic Performance and Spending over the Past 40 Years,” analyzed how billions of increased taxpayer dollars, combined with the number of school employees nearly doubling since 1970, to produce stagnant or declining academic results.

“The performance of 17-year-olds has been essentially stagnant across all subjects despite a near tripling of the inflation-adjusted cost of putting a child through the K-12 system,” writes Coulson.

Where did the numbers come from? The Koch Brothers? No:

Data from the U.S. Department of Education incorporating public school costs, number of employees, student enrollment and SAT scores was analyzed to explore the disparity between increased spending and decreasing or stagnant academic results.

Well, at least government-run monopoly schools outperform private private schools, right? No:

[…][P]rivate schools, where students excel over public school peers, …manage to operate at budgets about 34 percent lower than taxpayer-funded schools, US Finance Post reports.

Public schools spend, on average, $11,000 per student, per year.

Coulson noted an Arizona study he conducted which showed that the average per-pupil spending at private schools was only about 66 percent of the cost of public schools.

A more recent state-specific study from 2016 found that this is still the case.

This problem gets even worse when you look at test scores from other countries, where even less is spent on education.

As the Washington Post reported at the end of 2016:

When it comes to math, U.S. high school students are falling further behind their international counterparts, according to results released Tuesday of an ongoing study that compares academic achievement in 73 countries. And the news is not much better in reading and science literacy, where U.S. high schoolers have not gained any ground and continue to trail students in a slew of developed countries around the globe.

In the latest Program for International Student Assessment (PISA) measuring math literacy in 2015, U.S. students ranked 40th in the world. The U.S. average math score of 470 represents the second decline in the past two assessments — down from 482 in 2012 and 488 in 2009. The U.S. score in 2015 was 23 points lower than the average of all of the nations taking part in the survey.

More money is being spent, but the scores are DECREASING.

Now, why is it that increased government spending in the public school monopoly doesn’t improve student performance? Well, one reason is that very little of the money makes it to the classroom.

Where does all the money go?

Let’s look at four places where the money spent on the government-run public school monopoly ends up.

Administration

First, a lot of it gets paid to administrations who implement politically correct programs designed to turn the impressionable young people into little secular socialists.

Here’s a helpful chart from the American Enterprise Institute:

Where does taxpayer money spent on the public school monopoly go?
Where does taxpayer money spent on the public school monopoly go?

I guess if a school wants to make things like Planned Parenthood sex education and LGBT indoctrination into priorities, then they would need more administrators.

Pensions

Second, education employees get enormous pensions, which are paid by taxpayers and negotiated by their unions. You would never see pensions this large in the private sector.

This is from the leftist Brookings Institute, from 2014:

This figure shows we now spend nearly $1,100 per student on retirement benefits. The average public school student teacher ratio is 16 to 1. So we are spending about $17,000 per year per teacher in pension contributions.

[…]The National Council on Teacher Quality writes,

In 2014 teacher pension systems had a total of a half trillion dollars in unfunded liabilities—a debt load that climbed more than $100 billion in just the last two years. Across the states, an average of 70 cents of every dollar contributed to state teacher pension systems goes toward paying off the ever-increasing pension debt, not to future teacher benefits (p. iii).

While we are spending a huge amount to fund teacher pensions, most of that spending doesn’t go to attracting the best teachers. It’s paying off past debts.

We can’t hire good teachers, because all the education spending of today is paying for the gold-plated pensions of yesterday.

That was 2014. The numbers are even worse today. Teachers contribute very, very little to their pensions, but the benefits are enormous compared to what the private sector taxpayers get in Social Security. (Which is going to be bankrupt by 2034, as reported by the far-left PBS)

Teacher training

Third, a lot of it is spent on teacher training, because apparently teaching multiplication, Shakespeare or geography changes every year, so the teachers need tens of thousands of dollars in annual training.

The Washington Post reports on a recent study:

A new study of 10,000 teachers found that professional development — the teacher workshops and training that cost taxpayers billions of dollars each year — is largely a waste.

The study released Tuesday by TNTP, a nonprofit organization, found no evidence that any particular approach or amount of professional development consistently helps teachers improve in the classroom.

[…]The school districts that participated in the study spent an average of $18,000 per teacher annually on professional development. Based on that figure, TNTP estimates that the 50 largest school districts spend an estimated $8 billion on teacher development annually. That is far larger than previous estimates.

And teachers spend a good deal of time in training, the study found. The 10,000 teachers surveyed were in training an average of 19 school days a year, or almost 10 percent of a typical school year, according to TNTP.

Maybe if more of the money spent on education were spent directly on hiring teachers, then we would see an improvement. Unfortunately, a lot of the money meant for teachers goes to the teacher unions. How do they spend that money?

Political Contributions

Finally, this is from OpenSecrets.org, concerning political contributions made in the most recent election cycle:

Top Political Contributors in 2016 election cycle
Top Political Contributors in 2016 election cycle

The two largest teacher unions came in at #9 and #11. Most of their donations go to Democrat Party. Democrats believe (against the evidence) that spending more money in the government-run public school monopoly will improve student performance on tests.

So, what’s the solution?

The solution is that we abolish the federal Department of Education, which has done nothing to improve the quality of education for students. We need to push the education of children back down to the state and local levels. We need to empower parents to choose the schools that work best for their children by giving parents vouchers. We need to increase tax-free education savings accounts to help parents with school expenses. We should also give free college tuition to homeschooled students who are admitted to STEM programs at any college or university. We can take the money from the pensions of the union administrators, after we abolish ever single public sector teacher union in the country, and seize all their assets and pensions. If that’s not enough money, then we can seize all the pensions of Department of Education employees – a just punishment for their failure to produce results while still taking taxpayer money.

Finally, we should allow people who already have private sector experience doing things like STEM to become teachers. Let’s face it: the departments that grant Education degrees have the lowest entrance requirements, and produce the least competent adults. People with years of private sector work experience teach better than people with Education degrees. Let’s open up teaching to people who have experience in the private sector doing software engineering, statistics, nursing, etc. and then we’ll have qualified teachers.

Education Secretary Betsy Devos scores a victory against public sector union

Secretary of Education Betsy Devos
Secretary of Education Betsy Devos

Although you would never know it from the mainstream news media, Secretary of Education Betsy Devos is doing her best to advance a taxpayer-friendly agenda in education policy.

Here’s the latest from the American Enterprise Institute, a free-market think tank:

In a noteworthy development, DeVos’s team this month radically revamped the collective-bargaining agreement (CBA) that governs the 3,900 employees at the U.S. Department of Education. The new CBA, between the Department and Council 252 of the American Federation of Government Employees (AFGE), includes big changes from the 2013 agreement negotiated under the Obama administration.

The new agreement doesn’t address compensation or benefits, of course, since those are governed by federal law, but it does include a raft of sensible, taxpayer-friendly changes.

The new CBA eliminates the set-aside of “official time” for union business. Under the old agreement, designated union representatives were free to work on union business during normal, government hours — all on the taxpayers’ dime. The old CBA stipulated that “no fewer than 75” (!) union stewards across the country could work up to 40 hours a year on “official time,” while another three union officers would devote 100 percent of their time to union business. Henceforth, union business will be done on union time, rather than on the taxpayers’.

Under the old agreement, department employees were given only a solitary 48-hour window each year in which they could opt out of union membership; miss that, and they were automatically enrolled. Henceforth, employees who wish to be in the union each year will be free to do so, and they will have an extended period in which to enroll — but they will have to actively choose to join.

The revamped accord also removes the requirements for “pre-decisional consultation.” Under the previous CBA, the department was required to consult the union before every agency-wide decision that could be construed as affecting the work of employees (such as transferring employees from one office to another, or even shifting employees from one project to another within the same office). Now, the department needs only notify the union of such decisions.

Under the new CBA, the union will be charged “fair-market rent” for the use of government office space and federally furnished equipment to conduct union business. Under the Obama-era accord, taxpayers were required to provide space and equipment to the union free of charge.

More generally, the new agreement removes a number of provisions that added burdensome procedural directives above and beyond statutory requirements when it came to things such as telework and grievance procedures.

If there is one thing I expected from Betsy Devos, it’s taxpayer-friendly education policy.

Unfortunately, the Republican party didn’t help her very much in that massive $1.3 Billion spending bill that they passed, with Democrat support. Betsy wants to cut federal spending on education, and return control of education policy to the states and municipalities. But the GOP just gave the Department of Education a bigger budget. We really need to switch out some of these big government Republicans for authentic conservatives.

New study: single-sex schools more successful than mixed-sex schools

Do female-dominated schools discriminate against boys?
Do female-dominated schools discriminate against boys?

Here is the very latest study on this important topic from the Center for Economic and Policy Research (CEPR). They found that boys and girls both do better in single-sex schools, when compared to boys and girls in mixed-sex schools.

Excerpt:

We find robust evidence that pupils in single-sex schools outperform their counterparts in co-ed schools, by 5–10% of a standard deviation for boys and 4–7% for girls, with similar estimates across subjects (which include Korean, English, and maths). This is consistent with the findings reported in Park et al. (2013).

And this study was done in South Korea, where things are a lot more focused on academics than in North America!

In most schools, women comprise on average about 80% of the classroom instructors. This is not even to mention the administrators and the curriculum designers. It is not a friendly environment for boys. In fact, studies have shown that the typical curriculum is biased against boys. Teacher bias may also be a factor, since boys outperform their classroom grades on standardized tests (where there is no bias against them from the teachers).

Regarding the feminist curriculum, consider this report on a study from the UK Telegraph:

A lack of male role models at home and school is turning boys off reading at a young age as they increasingly reject books as “feminine”, it is claimed.

[…]Gavin Barwell, chairman of the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Literacy, said reading was not seen as a “masculine thing” by boys – leaving them lagging behind girls from the age of four onwards.

[…]According to Government figures, boys are less likely to read basic words or recite the alphabet by the age of five and the gap widens throughout compulsory education.

By the age of 16, fewer than 59 per cent of boys gained a good GCSE in English last year compared with 72.5 per cent of girls.

According to a brand new report from the American Enterprise Institute, this discrimination against boys is having a long-term negative effect on their participation in graduate school:

For the eighth year in a row, women earned a majority of doctoral degrees awarded at US universities in 2016. Of the 78,744 doctoral degrees awarded in 2016 (Table B.25), women earned 40,407 of those degrees and 52.1% of the total, compared to 37,145 degrees awarded to men who earned 47.9% of the total…

[…]Women represent 57.5% of all graduate students in the US, meaning that there are now 135 women enrolled in graduate school for every 100 men.

Here is one of the AEI charts:

Graduate school enrollment, male vs female, 2016
Graduate school enrollment, male vs female, 2016

You can read about a couple more studies here that also argue that the male-underformance problem is a lack of male teachers in the classroom. It’s important to understand this, because it shows why ignorant cries of “man up” are not going to get men to perform better in school and at work. And men only marry if they feel comfortable taking on the roles of husband and father – which costs money. Men have to be able to earn money in order to engage in marriage and family, and the schools we have right now are set up against them doing that. If you want your daughters to have husbands (instead of marrying government social programs), then you’d better pay attention to these studies and vote accordingly. If you can pull your boys put of mixed-sex schools, it’s a good idea to do that. Homeschooling or single-sex private schools work better for boys.

Democrats vote against tax cut for parents of homeschooled and disabled children

Ted and Heidi Cruz have a plan to simplify the tax code
Ted and Heidi Cruz have a plan to cut taxes for parents

I blogged recently about an amendment to the tax bill that Ted Cruz had put in to help parents with the costs of educating their children. It was a good amendment, and the Democrats even let some of it remain in the final version of the bill. But they voted against the tax cuts for parents who homeschool their children, or who have children with disabilities.

Here’s an article from Town Hall to explain what happened.

Excerpt:

Senator Ted Cruz (R-Texas), one of the Senate’s most outspoken advocates for school choice, introduced an addition to the tax bill called the Student Opportunity Amendment. The amendment would expand 529 college savings plans to also include K-12 education, allowing parents and grandparents to use these tax-advantaged plans to save up to $10,000 per child per year for private schools, religious schools, or even homeschooling.

This represented a significant change in policy that would benefit more than 50 million children. The Senate voted in favor of the amendment, 50-50, with the Vice President breaking the tie.

However, Democrats weren’t about to let a beneficial piece of legislation pass without a fight. Party leaders ran to the Senate Parliamentarian to complain that the entire amendment ran afoul of the Byrd rule — another one of those arcane Senate rules that no one understands. But while the Parliamentarian disagreed with the Democrats’ argument about the majority of the provisions in the amendment, she unfortunately found their argument compelling when applied to homeschooling and struck the language from the bill.

In response, Senator Cruz rushed to the floor and pushed a Motion to Waive the Parliamentarian’s changes, which solely affected the homeschooling provision. This motion would require a 60-vote majority to succeed.

As Senator Cruz explained in a passionate speech on the Senate floor, one of the provisions that was to be eliminated from the amendment was particularly important — it would allow parents with a child with disabilities to use a 529 plan to pay for educational therapy, which can often be prohibitively expensive.

How could the Democrats vote against that?

“We’ve got right now a motion to waive this mean-spirited, vindictive point of order that discriminates against homeschoolers and carves out kids with disabilities,” Cruz charged. He argued that the vote “ought to be 100 to nothing.”

Nevertheless, not a single Democrat voted for Senator Cruz’s motion. Not one. The Democrats knowingly and proudly discriminated against homeschooled kids and kids with disabilities, in many cases destroying their access to quality education. Even by the Democrats’ woefully low standards, it was a shameful display.

I found the video of the 13-minute speech – the part about the schools starts at 6 minutes in:

The whole thing is worth watching, just to understand what a tax cut really is, and to accept that Democrats don’t want you to have the money you earn. They want the money you earn – they want to spend it. They want to spend it buying the votes of people who don’t agree with your values, and who don’t respect how hard you worked in order to earn that money.

Let me tell you what this means to me. When I was young, I realized that getting married and having kids would require me to work an extra twenty years. Instead of retiring at 45, I would have to work until I was 65. I thought and thought about this, and I realized that the only reason to do this extra work would be if I could have several children  and raise them to be effective and influential Christians. So, I went to work getting multiple degrees in computer science and then working to earn and save money for this plan.

And this is what I learned while learning about politics along the way. There is one political party, the party of Ted Cruz, that wants me to keep my own money, and to educate my children as I see fit. They want me to marry, and they want me to have children, and they want me to lead my family the way that I see fit. After all, these conservatives say, he is the own earning the money. He should keep what he earns, and he should spend it how he needs to to achieve his goals. He shouldn’t be forced to pay into any education system that works against his values and against his worldview. That’s what Ted Cruz was trying to help me with with his amendment.

But there is another political party which believes in big government. They want to confiscate what I earn to create a system of government-run schools. And in those government-run schools, the children will not be taught anything useful for getting a job, getting married, having children, etc. They will be taught how to have premarital sex, how to stop global warming with socialism, how to have an atheistic worldview, how to blame capitalism for the failure of socialist policies, and how to embrace gay rights and radical feminism. If I tell those Democrats that I don’t want to send my schools there, they tell me that I have to pay for those schools, and there will be no tax cuts for me to homeschool my kids. Democrats are fascists – they want the government to be everything, and the family to be nothing.

I don’t know if the Democrats really realize the message they are sending to the last good men. The men who don’t drink, don’t take drugs, who are chaste, and who do want to marry and have children. But I am watching what happens in the world of politics, and I am getting the message. They don’t want me to pass on my values to my kids, they want their public school allies to pass progressive values on to my kids. And when Ted Cruz tries to do something to stop them, they shut him down. I hope more people realize how the government sees my priorities. They want to take what I earn, but they don’t let me have the freedom to lead a family. This is why men are not interested in marriage and children like they used to be. We don’t like the idea of being robbed by the government tax collectors and then being replaced by government educators.

Men on strike: the social changes that caused men to opt out of marriage

Painting: "Courtship", by Edmund Blair Leighton (1888)
Painting: “Courtship”, by Edmund Blair Leighton (1888)

I read and enjoyed Dr. Helen Smith’s book “Men on Strike” last year. The book explains a few of the developments that have led to men underperforming in school and in the workplace, and opting out of marriage and fatherhood.

Dr. Helen comes to this problem as a secular libertarian, not as a Christian conservative.

A review of Dr. Helen’s book appeared in Salvo magazine. The review is written by Terrell Clemmons, who has the best Christian worldview of any woman I know – I frequently rely on her advice.

Terrell writes:

While the feminist movement may originally have been about equal respect for both sexes, what it has morphed into, she argues, is female privilege. From rape laws that empower women but not the men they may falsely accuse, to divorce laws tilted in favor of the wife, to the feminization of the U.S. education system, men have become the sex under the gun, while women enjoy the status of a protected class.

But unlike their mothers or grandmothers, men today are not taking to the streets burning their undergarments and shrieking demands (thank God). They’re doing just the opposite, which is far worse. They’re going on strike. The strike zones are manifold:

Higher Education.In addition to the enrollment imbalance, which is approaching a 60/40 ratio of women to men, college has become, in the words of one professor, “a hostile working environment [in which] males increasingly feel emasculated.” Smith quotes a student named John, who had this to say about his college experience: “I had already been cautious around women, having grown up with Tawana Brawley in my backyard and daily stories of sexual harassment; I played it safe and passive every time. But it doesn’t matter. The only way not to lose is to not play. So I’m out.”

Work,including community involvement. With higher female graduation rates and salaries, men today are falling behind their fathers economically and professionally. Consequently, their efforts to prove themselves worthy mates through hard work and higher earnings don’t win female attention the way they used to. Discouraged, too many retreat to a man cave, and inertia sets in from there.

Marriage.Marriage rates are down, and honest men opting out will tell you why. Smith cites a Rutgers University study of single heterosexual men which turned up the top reasons they hadn’t married. They can get sex and the companionship of cohabitation without marriage more easily than in times past, and they don’t want to open themselves up to the risk of divorce and financial loss. It really isn’t that complicated a decision. In fact, it’s often not an actual decision at all. It just happens.

The simplest explanation for the difficulties that boys face in an education system that is dominated by women (teachers and administrators) is discrimination. And in the workplace, the government requires employers to report on male and female head counts, and promote women who are not qualified. I have seen receptionists with tattoos and no college degrees promoted to six-figure manager jobs in companies where I worked.

There is one more which to me was the most surprising one in the book – paternity fraud, and the laws that support paternity fraud:

Take the following cases of nonconsensual insemination: Nathaniel from California, age 15, had sex with 34-year-old Ricci, which, due to his age, was legally considered nonconsensual. Emile from Louisiana was visiting his parents in the hospital when a nurse offered him oral sex, if he wore a condom, which she conveniently offered to dispose of for him afterward. S. F. from Alabama passed out drunk at the home of a female friend and awoke undressed the following morning. In all three cases, including the one involving the minor, a woman got sperm and, nine months later, a child, and the man got ordered by a court of law to pay support for eighteen years.

Less devious, but similarly amiss, are those cases in which a man, having been betrayed by his wife or girlfriend, was nevertheless held financially responsible for a child genetically proven to be another man’s offspring. While not as sensational as sperm-jacking, it is another form of paternity extortion.

In each of those cases, the man was found liable to pay child support – including the case of the 15-year-old boy, who was forced to pay child support to his statutory rapist when he turned 18. This is how the court system works, and more and more men are understanding the risks.

I often encounter “pro-marriage” people while gathering stories for the blog. These pro-marriage people come in two varieties.

On the one end of the spectrum are people like Terrell Clemmons and Jennifer Roback Morse, who understand marriage, but who also understand the social changes that have made marriage unattractive for men. Both Clemmons and Morse have a background in STEM fields, so they are able to understand incentives and tradeoffs. They understand that society has to rollback the changes to education, divorce laws, etc. if they expect men to be interested in marriage again. They understand that men are not just accessories of women, but instead have their own desires, feelings and reasons for marrying.

On the other end of the spectrum are feminist men, who are not able to understand the changing incentives that face men in a world that has evolved under the influence of radical feminism. It is just simpler (less thinking) for these men to accept the radical feminism as a given, and then urge men to “man up”. I think a much better idea would be for the “man up” crowd to realize how marriage has changed, and how the schools and the workplace have changed, then make all of these things more attractive to men. It doesn’t do any good to try to “dare” men into jumping off a cliff. Men aren’t stupid, and they do what is in their own best interests. If the man-up crowd wants younger men to marry, then they need to change the incentives offered to men. And that means changing women first.