Tag Archives: Vouchers

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.

Is what Ted Cruz does in the Senate relevant to you?

Ted and Heidi Cruz have a plan to simplify the tax code
Ted and Heidi Cruz have a plan to for tax reform

Sometimes, I talk to rank and file Christians and see what they are interested in. Sometimes, they are interested in parenting, sports, movies and the same sort of stuff that non-Christians are interested in. Sometimes, they are interested in Bible study and theology, and maybe even philosophy of religion. But only rarely are they interested in apologetics and public policy. However, public policy is very important to Christians, because it affects how we work, how much we earn after taxes, and how much freedom we have to spend our money as we see fit. If you have Kingdom of God goals for your life as a Christian that are different from the ordinary minimal life goals of a non-Christian, then public policy is very important to you.

With that said, education has to be one of the most important areas that Christians are concerned about. Not only do we not want our children to be taught lies, but we also want them to be taught marketable skills that will allow them to have an influence as a Christian. If public schools are not doing a good job at both tasks, then we need to get the money we were forced to pay in taxes for them back, so we can make better choices about education.

The Washington Examiner reports on what conservative Texas senator Ted Cruz has done lately that will be interesting to Christians who are thoughtful about how their children are educated.

Excerpt:

Parents would get new federal tax breaks for sending their children to private or religious schools or teaching them at home if the final Republican tax overhaul bill becomes law.

For that, they can thank Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, who offered the original amendment to extend 529 college savings plans to grade school and high school, including costs for homeschooling.

Cruz’s amendment was the only one, setting aside manager’s amendments, to be added on either chamber’s floor. It passed as Republicans moved their bill through the Senate in the closing hours of Dec. 1. Cruz got an assist from Vice President Mike Pence, who cast the deciding vote in favor of the amendment after Republicans Lisa Murkowksi of Alaska and Susan Collins of Maine balked at the measure.

The amendment, which would allow $10,000 per child to be distributed from tax-privileged 529 savings plans each year, was included in Friday’s joint House-Senate conference bill. It would represent a tax cut of about $500 billion over 10 years, according to Congress’ Joint Committee on Taxation.

With the Cruz amendment’s inclusion, passage of the bill would represent a major advancement for school choice at the federal level.

The House version of the legislation contained a similar measure. It also included a noteworthy provision that would have permitted parents to open 529 accounts for unborn children. That language, which pro-abortion rights supporters had decried as an attempt to restrict abortion through the tax code, didn’t make it into the final bill.

One of the things that disappoints me about Donald Trump is that he does so little to persuade others to adopt conservative positions. Instead of being reasonable and using evidence, he is more likely to take to Twitter to get into a third-grade-level mocking match with people who disagree with him. It is true that he has done some conservative things, like reducing regulations, nominating great judges, and so on. But a great communicator creates consensus by being persuasive. You might not be able to persuade the radical leftists, but you have to be able to persuade at least some of the moderates. Ted Cruz has a much better record of being persuasive on policy issues than Donald Trump. And that’s probably because Ted Cruz has experience debating in college, and made it through Harvard University law school as an open conservative. He was considered brilliant by his progressive law professors, even though they didn’t agree with him.

We’re better off – from a public policy point of view – when we elect people who know how to be persuasive on public policy issues. Clowning around is entertaining, but it doesn’t get the wall built, and it doesn’t get Obamacare repealed. You have to be a better debater to get those kinds of things done.

New study: discipline in schools is more effective than increased government spending

Education spending has tripled since 1970
Education spending has tripled since 1970 – but where are the results?

New study reported by Phys.org. (H/T Mark)

Excerpt:

Discipline in schools has a greater impact and is more important to educational performance when compared to monetary investment, a new study from Macquarie University has found.

The study found that school performance was overwhelmingly determined by how schools are run, while in comparison the amount of money spent on schools as a percentage of GDP had a minor influence on educational performance.

“Monetary investment in education is not sufficient to boost educational performance. Discussion on education policy often centres on funding, but this study now establishes that a much more effective ‘tool’ to improve education performance and ultimately the competitiveness of a nation, is to focus on school discipline,” said co-author Associate Professor Chris Baumann of the study, published in the International Journal of Educational Management.

In analysing educational performance, the research assessed data from the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development’s (OECD) Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA), World Bank data on Government Expenditure, and World Economic Forum (WEF) data on competitiveness.

Thanks to Obama and his allies in the House and Senate, we now have a $20 trillion national debt, and $1.3 trillion of outstanding student loan debt from students. He left the Republicans with a mess, because his first, last and only solution to feeling unpopular was to borrow and spend more money – even if that never solved any problems.

Another important factor in the educational performance of children is whether they have married opposite-sex parents in the home.

The Orlando Sentinel reports:

In fact, our new study, “Strong Families, Successful Schools,” by the Institute for Family Studies, provides evidence that families play an important role in the performance and character of schools in counties across Florida. We found that the share of married-parent families in a county is one of the strongest predictors of high-school graduation rates for Florida counties; indeed, it’s a more powerful predictor than family income, race or ethnicity.

Across the state’s counties, graduation rates are 4 percentage-points higher for every 10 percentage-point rise in married-couple families.

We also found that counties that have strong and stable families tend to enjoy safer schools. In our research, the strongest predictor of school-suspension rates in counties across the state was the share of married parents in a county. County trends in family structure proved to be more important than county trends in parental education, family income, race and ethnicity. The suspension rate was lower by 3.5 points for every 10 percentage points that the proportion of married-couple families in a county was higher.

Our research is particularly timely because it compliments new research from MIT economist David Autor and his colleagues. Their study of more than 1 million Florida children indicates that poor boys, more than poor girls, are being hit particularly hard by single parenthood. After comparing brothers and sisters from father-absent homes, Autor and his colleagues concluded that the “boy-girl gap in suspensions is far smaller in families where children are born to married parents” and that the gender gap in high-school graduation is smaller for children whose parents are married.

Previously, I blogged about a Canadian study which concluded that children of same-sex parents have negative educational outcomes compared to children of opposite sex married parents.

Are Democrats in favor of opposite-sex marriage?

Democrats want to pay women welfare for having children out of wedlock, which not only lowers the academic performance of the children, but it introduces lack of discipline and disruption into the schools. Although Democrats claim they want to improve educational outcomes, (by borrowing and giving more money to their allies in the unionized public school system), their policies actually harm children. That is the result, whatever their pious intentions. And we all know that it was Democrats who pushed same-sex marriage on children, depriving children of either their mother or their father.

Democrats are also opposed to school choice. School choice allows parents to get their children out of failing public schools. School choice is especially beneficial to poor, minority students. Public schools are so bad, that even Democrat politicians refuse to send their own children to them.

So, for all their pious preening about wanting the best for children, Democrats really achieve two things: 1) worse educational outcomes for children, 2) more taxpayer money given to Democrat administrators and teachers in the failing public school system. When it comes to educating children, Democrats are against it.

Do government-run public schools succeed at educating children?

CNS News compares per-pupil costs to the taxpayer to student proficiency levels in a variety of Democrat-dominated cities.

Excerpt:

In Philadelphia, where the Democratic Party held its national convention, the public schools spent a total of $18,241 per student in the 2011-2012 school year, according to the U.S. Department of Education.

In Detroit… the public schools spent a total of $18,361 per student that year.

In Washington, D.C., where the federal government makes its home, it was $23,980.

What did these schools produce while spending more than $18,000 per student? Not well-educated children.

In the Philadelphia public schools in 2015, according to the National Assessment of Educational Progress scores published by the Department of Education, 80 percent of eighth graders were not grade-level proficient in math. Eighty-four percent were not grade-level proficient in reading.

In the Detroit public schools, 96 percent of eighth graders were not grade-level proficient in math. Ninety-three percent were not grade-level proficient in reading.

In the District of Columbia public schools, 83 percent of the eighth graders were not grade-level proficient in math. Eighty-one percent were not grade-level proficient in reading.

If you pay federal taxes — no matter where you live and no matter where you send your children to school — you help subsidize the public schools in Philadelphia, Detroit and Washington, D.C.

In fact, if you pay federal taxes you help subsidize the public schools all across America.

What I have noticed about American education is that whenever anything is said about the poor performance of the government-run public schools, the teacher unions and school administrators all cry that the problem is not enough money.

But as you can see, we have been spending more and more money on these schools, but not getting any return on the investment:

Education spending has tripled since 1970
Education spending has tripled since 1970

Where is all that money going? A lot of it is donated to Democrats:

Political contributions by the American Federation of Teachers union
Political contributions by the American Federation of Teachers union

(Source)

The Democrats repay the teacher unions by protecting them from competition from private schools and homeschoolers. Democrats shut down every attempt by Republicans to reform public school education to make it more responsive to parents.

In the free market, there is no protection for businesses that fail to perform. They have to shape up or shut down. Maybe instead of shoveling taxpayer money into a bottomless pit, we should give money for each child’s education directly to the parents, and let theparents choose schools that actually focus on the job of educating the children in valuable skills?

The CNS News article continues:

The cost and the poor performance of public schools in the United States should inspire Congress to do two things: Shut down the federal Department of Education and enact legislation creating complete school choice for families that reside in the District of Columbia.

Voters in states and local communities elsewhere in the country can then decide for themselves whether or not to replace the relatively small percentage of local school revenue that now comes from the federal government.

But the right decision would be for states and local communities to stop giving their education money exclusively to government-run schools.

Instead, they should give that money to parents — and let parents decide where to send their children to school.

Communities should grant every child in their jurisdiction a voucher worth the same amount of money currently spent per pupil in the local government schools. Then they should let families decide whether they want to send their children to one of those government schools or to a private school.

Attaching the money to the child makes the parents the consumer, and empowers them to buy the right school – the school that does the job that they want the school to do. Instead of focusing on global warming, gay rights, transgender bathrooms and putting condoms on cucumbers, the schools should be focused on math, engineering, technology and science. STEM is where the money is – not in liberal crybaby indoctrination.

Report: Common Core does not prepare students for college

Cato Institute graphs education spending against test scores
Cato Institute graphs education spending against test scores

First, let’s recall why Common Core was enacted by the Democrats by excerpting this post from The Pulse.

It says:

When Common Core was sprung on the whole nation in 2010, it promised that every kid graduating high school will be “career- and college-ready.” Career-readiness was quickly left by the wayside — nobody, including the NAGB [National Assessment Governing Board], could figure out what it means — but college-readiness remained the “chicken in every pot” promise of Common Core.

The Daily Signal reports on a new report by the American College of Testing, the group behind the ACT college readiness test.

Excerpt:

A recently released report confirms what Common Core critics have suspected all along: Common Core State Standards do not adequately prepare students for college-level work.

The ACT report finds many concerning shortcomings in the Common Core State Standards, which have been adopted by most states. Notably, the report reveals:

  • “While secondary teachers may be focusing on source-based writing [essays written about source-based documents], as emphasized in the Common Core, college instructors appear to value the ability to generate sound ideas more than some key features of source-based writing.
  • “Some early elementary teachers are still teaching certain math topics omitted from the Common Core standards, perhaps based on the needs—real or perceived—of students entering their classrooms.
  • “In addition, many mathematics teachers in grades 4–7 report including certain topics relevant in STEM coursework in their curricula at grades earlier than they appear in the Common Core.”

Teachers who must adjust their curriculum to fit Common Core aligned state tests now find themselves in a bind. As the report finds, the Common Core math standards do not adequately provide a child with the skills needed to succeed in the classroom, forcing teachers to add on extra material to their limited instruction time.

Additionally, high school English teachers must now emphasize material that leaves students lacking in original thought and analytical skills, according to many college professors. For example, only 18 percent of college professors surveyed rated their students as prepared to distinguish between opinion, fact, and reasoned judgement—a skill determined to be important for college-level work.

The “one-size-fits-all” national standards are underserving American children. It is nearly impossible, and does a great disservice to future generations, to demand uniformity and place restrictions on the classroom that assumes one “best practice.”

Common Core was designed to better prepare students for college, but now we know that it had the exact opposite effect from what the leftists intended – and what the leftists promised us. Just like Obamacare, we elected people who didn’t know what they were doing, did something that made the problem worse, and wasted a ton of taxpayer money in the process. Failure across the board.

One obvious point to make about Common Core is that conservatives are right when we say that education is a state and local issue. It shouldn’t be a federal level issue. Ted Cruz was going to abolish the Department of Education at the federal level and push it down to the states, so that we wouldn’t have screw-ups like this. Just think of all the money that’s been wasted on Common Core, and now we find out that it’s a disaster, just like Head Start.

Big government liberals like the idea of making everything equal, but if everything is equally bad then we really should let parents decide how to educate their kids. They’ll make better choices than secular leftist educrats anyway. The right solution is to give the parents a voucher, and let them choose which school to send their child to – and homeschooling parents should not have to pay into a system that they don’t even use.