Skeptic of School Protest

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A Skeptic of the School Protest by Mitch Miller

Teacher’s unions will be protesting this week for higher pay for teachers. They may try to disguise their protest as an effort to help kids, but we all know better. They will be chanting, “Education needs more money!” and “Don’t let our kids fail!” I wish they would just be honest and demand a specific pay raise and leave the children out of it.

At St. Vrain, almost 85% of the general budget is tied to payroll and benefits. An increase in funding for education would be almost exclusively a pay raise for teachers and school administrators. If we still have the same teachers, the same administration, and the same system as before, how would a pay raise translate into a better education for our kids? It won’t!

As the following chart from the U.S. Department of Education illustrates, over the last forty years spending has skyrocketed but test scores have remained the same. There isn’t any correlation between spending and results.

I would like to discuss two issues concerning this demonstration: 1) How much money does public school receive per student? 2) Would people be willing to voluntarily pay for the current cost of public schooling without government coercion?

St. Vrain Funding

I chose to analyze St. Vrain, as they are participating in the demonstration, to give a general idea of the cost of public school. The following graph and budget came from St. Vrain’s Annual Budget Report .

St Vrain has over $400 million in funding which equates to approximately $13,000 per student. Public schools receive significantly more funding than is reported by teachers and administrators, who tend to only mention state funding. Schools also receive federal funding, grants, donations, and don’t forget about the massive BEST grants to build new schools. This is an obscene amount of money, yet public schools pay almost all of it in payroll.

As you can see in the following chart 84.46% of St. Vrain’s general budget goes towards employees’ salaries and benefits. By demanding more money for education, they are guaranteed a pay raise.

Would You Pay $13,000 per Year for Public Education?

How many people would pay a yearly tuition charge of $13,000 per student to enroll their child in a public school. If very few people are willing to pay this on their own, then why are we paying it collectively? If society is the sum of individuals living together and if most individuals aren’t willing to pay $13,000 per student per year, then why do we say that society values it at this price? The fact is that if individuals do not value public education at this level, neither does society. It is time for the government to stop forcing society to over pay for public education.

Instead of demanding more money, schools need to innovate to be able to provide an education that is valued more than its cost.

In order to improve public schools, we need schools to begin receiving their money directly from satisfied customers through voluntary transactions.

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