Public Education’s Return on Investment: $1.53 for every $1.00
Public schools DO add value to the economy! When I was preparing school budgets, a study like this one in Virginia Beach VA wold have found its way into a board packet and into a public presentation on the budget. People don’t realize that salaries earned by school employees get spent locally, construction and major renovation projects add jobs to the local economy, and many of the small maintenance jobs are completed by local contractors. Local schools shouldn’t be employment agencies, but their effect on the local economy is too often overlooked… as many communities across the country are discovering as budgets get slashed.
The obsession with standardized testing is leading to the demise of play in pre-schools, according a 2009 article published in Scientific American that was recently posted on Coos Networks. The sad fact seems to be that well educated parents want their children to “learn” in pre-school and un-educated parents buy representational toys or use TV to amuse their children. The result: no play and no opportunity to develop their imagination. A year-old monograph from the American Academy of Pediatrics reinforces these findings. My grandson Lyric has more fun with a stick and a coat hanger than he has with his explicitly designed toys.
School Choice? Not anything close to the salvation for public education. This essay, cross posted in Common Dreams from a teaching tolerance blog written by Maureen Costello, debunks the notion that choice– and charter schools, it’s direct descendent– results in ANY improvement in public education. There isn’t a single argument in this that I disagree with…
The Nation astutely notes some of the shortcomings of Obama’s plans for public education in an article by Dana Goldstein. A paragraph in the middle of the essay captures the problem with Obama’s plan:
But here’s the rub: what Obama didn’t say is that he supports using student test scores to judge which teachers are effective. His administration has tied significant financial incentives to that priority, so states and districts are scrambling to create many more standardized tests to evaluate each and every teacher, including teachers of nontraditional subjects such as art, music and physical education, as well as teachers in the early grades, right down to kindergarten.
The article also notes that this was the first time Obama did NOT mention pre-K education in a State of the Union address. Why? Because it costs too much. The same reason we don’t use more sophisticated metrics and the whole reason we can’t pull kids out of poverty.
Finding tutors with time to get to high-poverty schools is a challenge, but one that can be overcome with technology as reported in the NYTimes. This may have applications in the North Country of NH where I’m consulting… trying to find ways to link schools with each other and with the community.
The digital divide mirrors the economic divide as described in this article posted on the ASCD blog. The divide is exacerbated in rural areas where dial-up is the most you can hope for and bandwidth is absurdly narrow… The problem, once again, is resources!