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» The Ornery American Forum » General Comments » Cutting school ciriculum in half.

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Author Topic: Cutting school ciriculum in half.
LetterRip
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If you had to cut the school curriculum and drop half of it, where would you make the cuts and why?
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MattP
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Wow, that's a tough one. If I were to cut it in half, I'd probably start with stuff that wasn't core academics - sports, art, foreign languages. I'd hope that kids who were interested in these areas would use some of their new-found free time to pursue them. I'd keep math, science, and language skills because I think it's less likely that people would work on their own to improve them and stay competitive.
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Viking_Longship
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I'd cut out math science and language skills and put everything into art, music, phys ed and history. Maybe that would teach them to stop trying to cut out half the ciriculum.

[ September 30, 2010, 09:38 PM: Message edited by: Viking_Longship ]

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Chael
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I'd cut out grades 1-6 and not have children start formalized schooling until the age of 12 or 13 (while offering optional foreign language classes, as those are good to start at an early age), at which point, given that they wouldn't be completely deadened to the utility and joy of knowledge by six years of busywork, I'd proceed to teach them everything.

Given that a fair number of students seem to enter college without a basic grounding in at least two of the areas we think are so desperately important that we try to pound them into everyone (which two areas vary, of course) and it's then taught to them at warp-speed, I don't see why we need to spend twelve years on this stuff.

[Smile]

[ September 30, 2010, 09:48 PM: Message edited by: Chael ]

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JWatts
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Well, if it were Washington DC I'd take the cost of $24,600 cut it in half to $12,300. Use $10,000 to send the kids to privates schools (the average cost in the area is $10K) and give the tax payers a $2,300 rebate.

quote:
We're often told that public schools are underfunded. In the District, the spending figure cited most commonly is $8,322 per child, but total spending is close to $25,000 per child -- on par with tuition at Sidwell Friends, the private school Chelsea Clinton attended in the 1990s.

What accounts for the nearly threefold difference in these numbers? The commonly cited figure counts only part of the local operating budget. To calculate total spending, we have to add up all sources of funding for education from kindergarten through 12th grade, excluding spending on charter schools and higher education. For the current school year, the local operating budget is $831 million, including relevant expenses such as the teacher retirement fund. The capital budget is $218 million. The District receives about $85.5 million in federal funding. And the D.C. Council contributes an extra $81 million. Divide all that by the 49,422 students enrolled (for the 2007-08 year) and you end up with about $24,600 per child.

For comparison, total per pupil spending at D.C. area private schools -- among the most upscale in the nation -- averages about $10,000 less. For most private schools, the difference is even greater.

Link
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Carlotta
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I like JWatt's idea.
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Pyrtolin
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Instead of cutting, I'd double up natural pairs- make math and science one course, history and English, another. Split phys-ed between arts and vocational classes. And then shuffle the parings a bit to build more connections- history and science, English and drama, math and music, phys-ed and science, etc...
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Chael
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Or math, physics and music and have an acoustics course! [Smile]
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Rallan
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quote:
Originally posted by Viking_Longship:
I'd cut out math science and language skills and put everything into art, music, phys ed and history. Maybe that would teach them to stop trying to cut out half the ciriculum.

Well it wouldn't. Everyone would just rejoice that you saved the football team from oblivion [Smile]
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Rallan
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If we're cutting the cirriculum in half to save costs, what exactly are the students doing all day from the ages of 5 to 18?

Because seriously, not even American students would need thirteen years of schooling to reach a 7th grade education level [Smile]

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JoshuaD
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quote:
Originally posted by JWatts:
Well, if it were Washington DC I'd take the cost of $24,600 cut it in half to $12,300. Use $10,000 to send the kids to privates schools (the average cost in the area is $10K) and give the tax payers a $2,300 rebate.

quote:
We're often told that public schools are underfunded. In the District, the spending figure cited most commonly is $8,322 per child, but total spending is close to $25,000 per child -- on par with tuition at Sidwell Friends, the private school Chelsea Clinton attended in the 1990s.

What accounts for the nearly threefold difference in these numbers? The commonly cited figure counts only part of the local operating budget. To calculate total spending, we have to add up all sources of funding for education from kindergarten through 12th grade, excluding spending on charter schools and higher education. For the current school year, the local operating budget is $831 million, including relevant expenses such as the teacher retirement fund. The capital budget is $218 million. The District receives about $85.5 million in federal funding. And the D.C. Council contributes an extra $81 million. Divide all that by the 49,422 students enrolled (for the 2007-08 year) and you end up with about $24,600 per child.

For comparison, total per pupil spending at D.C. area private schools -- among the most upscale in the nation -- averages about $10,000 less. For most private schools, the difference is even greater.

Link
I like, but don't forget that the prices will go up with more demand.
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philnotfil
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I keep thinking about this question and asking more questions.

Cut in half? Just what is taught, or also the amount of time they spend at school? Cut in half which way? Only teach them until 6th grade? Only teach them 6th grade material, but keep them until 12th grade? Teach them 12th grade material, up until 12th grade, but only in a few subjects?

I keep trying to come up with answers, and then getting bogged down in the extra questions. Generically, I would be in favor of only offering what we traditionally consider to be the electives (art, music, PE, technology) and incorporating reading, math, science, and social studies into those classes. Since we are only teaching half as much we have twice as many teachers, each class will have the teacher who would normally teach the elective and a teacher who used to teach a core academic subject. With their powers combined ...

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LetterRip
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Pyrtolin,

yep that was my plan as well. Restructure the curriculum, largely eliminating English and math as separate subjects.

JWatts,

interesting argument regarding cost.

Looked up how he did the calculations.

http://www.cato-at-liberty.org/the-real-cost-of-public-schools/

While his methodology seems fairly sound for public school cost calculation, DC is an extreme example.

Ie he finds for Arizona the average for public schools is 12,000 or so.

http://www.cato.org/pubs/pas/pa662.pdf

The big issue is that it looks like he is cheating when he calculate the private schools - he mentions that he eliminates schools with boarding - however he eliminates them even if it is boarding optional (which at a glance appear to be true for all of them).

For instance using the correct methodology even including religious schools,

I get 130,000/6 about 22k a year for private boys schools (did the math in my head so hopefully no major errors)

http://www.washingtonian.com/articles/businesscareers/13876.html

If we separate out the religious schools (which can pay below prevailing wage, tax free land, etc.) Then the average for private schools goes above that paid for public schools.

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Carlotta
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JoshuaD, the prices would go up as demand went up, but only until private schools adjusted to the increased demand and expanded and hired more teachers. Then they'd go back down again.
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LetterRip
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Redid my math with more schools, and used a spreadsheet.

234000/13 = 18,000 per student.

However that number is way light for a few reasons,

just checked some of the schools that they list for low amounts - they show 9500 in the listing, the actual school is 15000. Also for public schools his numbers include the school lunch program, books, etc. Whereas the numbers he is using are tuition only (Ie books are 500$ a semester or more; computer labs are 100$ or more; the cheapest schools are usually military schools and require uniforms - that are 1500$; none of these costs include providing of school lunchs or other meals is included for the private schools)

Also costs that the private schools don't have - ie busing are included in public schools, even though if we switched to pure private schools that cost would be needed for them as well.

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philnotfil
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Just a note on calculating costs at public vs. private schools. Private schools tend to not have the expensive ESE students, so the per pupil numbers are higher for regular students at private schools, and lower for regular students at public schools.
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LetterRip
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Contacted the author,

he suggests that the difference is largely due to my sample not being representative, the coed schools section has a higher percentage of cheap schools.

Checking the numbers it does indeed - although the cheap schools tend to only be teaching till the 6th or 8th grade and are generally small church schools.

Averaging with those schools I get around 14000.

philnotfil, I agree that that is an issue as well.

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