Friday, March 27, 2009

The Cost of Education

Sometime during grade school somebody mentioned to me that whenever a student missed a day of class, it cost the school $60 in federal funding. That's what the school was paid by the government, per student, to see that we were educated. I'll admit that may seem low, compared to what they're paying now, but I'll bet I was getting a better education. 

I was surprised, when my own kids went through school, by what they didn't have to learn. None of them had to memorize the prepositions. None of them had to learn how to diagram sentences. They didn't have to parse verbs. Essay questions? Most teachers didn't believe in them. After all, if you give an essay question, then you have to read and grade it. That sounds like a lot of trouble for the teacher. True/False or multiple choice are much easier to grade. (Easier to guess if you didn't study, too.)

Foreign language was offered from Seventh Grade on up when I was in school in Virginia. By the time we moved to California, they had to put me in an ESL (English as a Second Language) class to allow me to continue taking Spanish. I was a 4th year Spanish student as a Sophomore. That's all they offered in California, even then. I think they only offer two or three years now. Things are going backwards.

I guess I could follow up by making a big political statement about throwing more money into the education system. I could, but I don't think you're dense enough to need me to do that. What I'd rather do is get some comments on what you remember learning in school that perhaps your kids aren't being taught. Do you think money is the key? I'd sure love to have a few answers.


schmath said...

I always wondered if I wasn't paying attention when they taught the parts of speech, or if the teachers just didn't teach them. I didn't learn them until I had to teach them to my own students. My mom says there was a movement not to teach that kind of stuff when I was in school. Ridiculous. How is anyone supposed to understand grammar without understanding parts of speech? I think English classes focused too much on literature and not enough on writing skills. It's probably the state's fault. I know that in Utah, the state dictates what the teachers teach, and it isn't always the most important stuff.

Sharon and Marvin said...

Teachers are definitely underpaid. We pay more money to actress and actors pretending to be teachers than we pay our teachers. I think the money spent on conferences and trips could be betters spent on teaching. And lastely...administrators are paid just way too much compared to the teachers who are doing the work with our students. Music is what I remember in all grades of school, but now you have to pay extra if you want that for your student. Music has been proven to improve reading and math skills.

Ri said...

This is a heated debate as of late (again) and I have recently sat in some proposed budget-cut meetings. In this school district, teachers are paid well. However, they should be paid on merit, not just tenure. The argument is how do you judge their merit fairly? Well, how is any employee evaluated and given raises? It's the real world and unfortunately education thinks it's not real-world. Hundreds of pink slips have just been issued, and they were given to the teachers with the least amount of tenure. Unfortunately, two of the very best teachers in our school got 'pinked' while some of the old-time slouches did not. That doesn't seem fair. It is certainly not fair to my children who have to suffer through sub-standard classes, then pay the price the following year when they are not prepared for the next level.
Is a lot of money really, really needed for quality education? Is it not possible to actually teach on a small budget? I would assume yes, since home-schoolers are statistically getting a fabulous education on really no budget at all.
Most districts are very top heavy. If the administrators would learn to run the schools effectively without laying off the good teachers, then we wouldn't have these budget crises.
They might learn that they could function without 3 secretaries, chauffeurs, catered lunches, etc. I've seen the budgets - it's crazy!
And yes, I do not recall ever learning how to properly diagram a sentence, write essays, or memorize prepositions. I'm still learning it now. Maybe they thought that since we had "School House Rock" on Saturday mornings, that would suffice.

Ri said...

And don't even get me started on the unions!!!!!

Kathleen said...

Ri - I think you used two dirty words: tenure and unions.