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Public Education Works IF It Is Supported

February 24, 2016

A Common Dreams article by Paul Buchheit caught my eye based on its title, “Why We Need Democratic Socialism to Fix Our Public Schools” and the title of this post is the heading of one section that jumped out at me. That section is reprinted below:

The National Bureau of Economic Research found that a 10 percent increase in per-pupil spending leads to higher earnings and less poverty for children from poor families. The Shanker Institute concurs, concluding from several studies that “On average, aggregate measures of per-pupil spending are positively associated with improved or higher student outcomes.” 

Yet public education is NOT being supported. The Center on Budget and Policy Priorities(CBPP) recently stated: “Most states provide less support per student for elementary and secondary schools—in some cases, much less—than before the Great Recession…Worse, some states are still cutting eight years after the recession took hold.”

Most damaging may be the cutbacks to pre-school programs, which have been shown by numerous studies to provide the social and emotional foundations for lifelong skills, and for higher earnings, especially for disadvantaged children. In 2013 Head Start was hit with the worst cutbacks in its history.

Earlier in the article Buchheit described the dismal reality of public education funding and support now: the  OECD report describing the lack of numeric and reading skills among 16-19 year olds; the failure of the market-based “reform” movement– particularly reforms that relied too heavily on technology; and the failed charter school movement. After citing the data in the section above, Buchheit concludes that we should emulate Finland if we are serious about improving public education. He concludes with this:

Even free-market economist Milton Friedman once stepped out of character and agreed: “We have always been proud, and with good reason, of the widespread availability of schooling to all and the role that public schooling has played in…enabling people from different cultural and religious backgrounds to live together in harmony.”

Children aren’t products to be bought and sold. The profit motive should end at the front door of the public school.


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