Sunday, August 24, 2008

Costs of School

Apparently Connecticut is considering a tax revolt over the costs of their schools:
Over the past two and a half decades, the student population in Connecticut has increased only 10%. Yet the cost of schooling more than doubled -- to $8.8 billion in 2006, up from $3.4 billion in 1981.
Sure, costs of education were lower nearly 30 years ago. If the readers of the WSJ simply compared their own academic experience to that of the present they'd see that this isn't so surprising.

Special Ed was non-existent in public schools - they sent them to private boarding schools. You had few elective choices - now you have many. You had a nurse who took care of your cuts and bruises - now she has far more on her plate. The couple counselors would talk about college or career choices - now you have the counselors, office staffs, SAP, SMILE, psychologists on retainer, sociologists, etc. Your teachers' certification requirements were simplistic - now the hurdles and hoops are far greater and the salaries rise accordingly. The principals were career teachers who earned more than their colleagues (hence the word Principal meaning "first") - now you have career administration who earn 3 to 4 times as much as the highest paid teacher and that's saying a lot. You had "tech" which consisted of a body shop with rudimentary (and fairly inexpensive) equipment - now you have CAD rooms with their own servers, CNC machines in both the wood and the metal shop, huge outlays in hardware and software. Then you had $2 teacher gradebook and a blackboard that had been installed 35 years earlier - now you computers all over the place, with whiteboards and smartboards and projectors and CBL lab equipment with electronic sensors and probes. (And it gets replaced every 3-5 years - called "upgrades."

The only real surprise is that the cost of education has only doubled in nearly twenty-seven years.

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