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Author Topic: How much should be spent on a kid per year for school
Lewkowski
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Ie how much money should be spent on a school per kid? $1,000 dollars? $2,000? $5,000? And don't look up what the average is. Be rational, how much should be spent this way.
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Wayward Son
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Are you talking about elementary school, junior high, high school, or college?

For college, no more than $5000/year (wishful thinking [Smile] ).

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Everard
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Wow, I love how your high end is 5,000. You realize that means we'd be paying teachers about 15,000 dollars a year, right?
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Wayward Son
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IIRC, my company allocates $50/hr per worker. This covers salary and infrastructure/ maintenance/ clerical/ etc. costs. In other words, salaries, all costs for providing equipment and a place to work, and any ancilliary costs (gov't regulations, accounting costs, etc.)

Subtracting a generous salary of $40/hr (much better than I get [Eek!] ) leaves $10/hr for a 40 hour work week, 52 weeks a year. That's about $20,000 a year just for cost of having an employee.

So I'd say that $20,000/year/student is a low figure for elementary through secondary school, since this would also have to cover teacher salaries, etc.

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Kit
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That's a tough question, much of it depends on the cost of infrastructure, rather than the direct cost of teaching the kid.

I'd say the direct amount (books, paper, pencils, etc) would be $1000 or less. Especially when buying in bulk for classes or whole schools I find it hard to imagine it would take more than that. Even multiple field trips could probably be covered by a grand.

The rest of the cost is based on salaries and infrastructure cost. So then it really becomes a question of what level of infrastructure do we want/need/expect, and how well should the teachers get paid.

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Kit
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quote:
Originally posted by Wayward Son:
IIRC, my company allocates $50/hr per worker. This covers salary and infrastructure/ maintenance/ clerical/ etc. costs. In other words, salaries, all costs for providing equipment and a place to work, and any ancilliary costs (gov't regulations, accounting costs, etc.)

Subtracting a generous salary of $40/hr (much better than I get [Eek!] ) leaves $10/hr for a 40 hour work week, 52 weeks a year. That's about $20,000 a year just for cost of having an employee.

So I'd say that $20,000/year/student is a low figure for elementary through secondary school, since this would also have to cover teacher salaries, etc.

I think (based on my very limited experience) that the "cost" of an employee is approximately twice what the employee actually gets as a salary. I expect this includes Social Security, retirement, and health benefits (probably over 10% of salary with just these 3) as well as building space, utilities, and the salaries of support personnel.

Of course that means that a teacher making $30,000 probably costs the school closer to $60,000. So in a class with 30 students, just the teacher comes to ~$2000 per student.

Or am I wrong?

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LetterRip
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Kit,

As you say generally overhead costs (infrastructure, training, and non monetary compensation) are the equivalent of salary costs. In the case of grade schools infrastructure costs would likely be higher (children require more square footage, etc than the typical cubicle [Smile] ).

Costs should be allocated according to cost of living also - so there isn't a one cost per child fits all - podunk USA teacher should probably not be making near as much as big city USA teacher.

LetterRip

[ November 23, 2005, 02:06 PM: Message edited by: LetterRip ]

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Pelegius
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Let me see, Philips Exeter charges U.S.$32,725 per student per anum, and has an endowment of U.S. $660,000 per student. That seems a little much for the government to spend, but it is a goal to work towards.
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Daruma28
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Depends on who's doing the spending.

As far as I'm concerned, if it's the federal govenrment, the proper amount is $0...

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thegreatgrundle
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quote:
As far as I'm concerned, if it's the federal govenrment, the proper amount is $0...
Just the federal government, or any government? I don't want the states paying for schools either...
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Pelegius
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Well, then, it is hoped that a nation of illiterates can function. So much for Philosopher-Voters, the American Prometheus is firmly bound. Fettered by our own blindness, we shoot the albatross of knowledge, only for it to grow heavy on our necks as we swiftly plummet into the abyss of ignorance. Ecce, sic transit gloria mundi.
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RickyB
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Daruma, that produces vast swaths - entire states of the union - that are hopelessly disadvantaged insofar as education in comparison with other parts.

Is that the America you dream of?

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Daruma28
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Ah yes Peleg and Ricky....because the US was a gigantic continent of illiterates before the Federal Government began spending money on public education...how did the Declaration of Independance or the Constitution ever get written by a bunch of guys that were unlucky enough to live before Federally Funded public education?!?!?!?

In fact, our public education system routinely "graduates" illiterates, despite an ever increasing Federal Education budget.

BTW - Note I said FEDERAL Government. That's not the same as cutting education funding entirely on all levels.

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RickyB
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The disparity between rural and urban areas was far greater until the 1930's. The disparity between the poorest states and the richest ones was much greater.

I noticed what you said. What I'm saying is, that without the Federal government as a redistributive force, residents of poorer states would get less per student. Residents of poorer counties would get less.

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Pelegius
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The education of a small élite does not, in any way, signify the wider education of the population. Having a ruling élite is fine, it has historically worked rather well, but it cannot be called democratic, and we are a nation based on democracy.

Democracy relies on the ability of the majority to understand complex issues and be able to form opinions based on this understanding. Thus, we educate the population. As all levels of government are governed by this principle, all levels of government should see that it works.

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Daruma28
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We are NOT a nation based on democracy.

We were designed and founded as a Representative Republic.

Big difference.

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Pelegius
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No, you are wrong. We are a Representative Republic, but we are a Democratic Representative Republic, i.e. one in which people vote on representatives. This is fundamental to our nature.

Any way, our citizens need to be educated.

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Daruma28
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No, you are wrong.
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Pelegius
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A Republic can be either Democratic or not. Democracy refers to the act of voting. All that being a Republic means is that it is not a Monarch or Theocracy.
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Paladine
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quote:
Daruma, that produces vast swaths - entire states of the union - that are hopelessly disadvantaged insofar as education in comparison with other parts.

Is that the America you dream of?

Do you believe that school districts which receive a massive amount of federal dollars tend to do better as a result? Just about every example I've seen would support the opposite view: that federal funding for education has been a largely wasteful and unproductive boondoggle.

We spend an obscene amount of money on public schools and get comparatively little bang for our buck. There are a lot of problems in education, and precious few that can be solved by means of multi-billion dollar federal redistributive policies. Maybe we should care a bit less about the amount of money spent in each school district and a bit more about the quality produced by those districts.

Maybe instead of worrying about whether poor districts do as well as rich districts we should focus our energy on making both poor and rich do better. Disparity isn't terribly important to me so long as the results actually improve.

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Paladine
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quote:
All that being a Republic means is that it is not a Monarch or Theocracy.
That's just flat out untrue. "Republic" has a positive definition, not just an incomplete negative one. Your statement there's about on par with me saying "All it means to be a fish is that the animal isn't a mammal or a bird." "Fish" and "republic" must be defined according to what they are; not what they are not.
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Chael
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Actually, guys, I think Pelegius might have a point on this one. This dictionary's applicable definitions of "Republic" are as follows:

quote:

1a) A political order whose head of state is not a monarch and in modern times is usually a president.

2a) A political order in which the supreme power lies in a body of citizens who are entitled to vote for officers and representatives responsible to them.

Additionally, the word "republic" comes from the Latin publicus, meaning "of the people." A republic is not a straight democracy, and I happen to think that the idea that the supreme power lies in the people because they vote for their representatives is hogwash, but a republic these days does have democratic leanings, and gosh darn it, the people are important. [Wink]
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Daruma28
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If any of you bothered to read the link I posted, you would learn that the founding fathers that actually designed and created our Representative Republic were dead set against Democracy.

quote:
D]emocracies have ever been spectacles of turbulence and contention; have ever been found incompatible with personal security, or the rights of property; and have, in general, been as short in their lives as they have been violent in their deaths. - James Madison

Remember, democracy never lasts long. It soon wastes, exhausts, and murders itself. There never was a democracy yet that did not commit suicide. - John Adams

A democracy is a volcano which conceals the fiery materials of its own destruction. These will produce an eruption and carry desolation in their way.4 The known propensity of a democracy is to licentiousness [excessive license] which the ambitious call, and ignorant believe to be liberty. - Fisher Ames, Author of the House Language for the First Amendment

We have seen the tumult of democracy terminate . . . as [it has] everywhere terminated, in despotism. . . . Democracy! savage and wild. Thou who wouldst bring down the virtuous and wise to thy level of folly and guilt. - Gouverneur Morris, Signer and Penman of the Constitution

[T]he experience of all former ages had shown that of all human governments, democracy was the most unstable, fluctuating and short-lived. - John Quincy Adams

A simple democracy . . . is one of the greatest of evils. - Benjamin Rush, Signer of the Declaration

In democracy . . . there are commonly tumults and disorders. . . . Therefore a pure democracy is generally a very bad government. It is often the most tyrannical government on earth. - Noah Webster

Pure democracy cannot subsist long nor be carried far into the departments of state, it is very subject to caprice and the madness of popular rage. - John Witherspoon, Signer of the Declaration

It may generally be remarked that the more a government resembles a pure democracy the more they abound with disorder and confusion. - Zephaniah Swift, Author of America's First Legal Text


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Chael
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I glanced at it, Daruma. I've read most of it before--sometimes in quotes, sometimes in more complete articles. Yes, they did not want a pure democracy. Several of them were emphatically distrustful of the passions of the people (The Mob would probably be a better term). We're a representative republic for a reason. Absolutely!

But it's still a democratic representative republic, because at least some of them were equally distrustful of elites holding power without checks or responsibility. No? [Wink]

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Pelegius
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Chael is right. Germany under Hitler was a Republic, but hardly a democratic one. The U.K. is not a Republic, but it is a Democracy. A Republic is a type of government. Democracy is a system of government.
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IrishTD
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tgg:
quote:
Just the federal government, or any government? I don't want the states paying for schools either...
Sorry, not gonna happen. Most state constitutions require public education systems. Fed spending should still be close to $0.

***
Back on topic, how much to spend...let's see, an average for $2-3K/student for salary ($40K/school year is a decent start for a new hire most places...and at least average or slightly above so for most folks with a 4-yr degree)...maybe double that for benefits and other fixed costs. And how about another $1K for misc. Looks to top out about $7K/year. Higher cost of living areas might need to be higher, but this is probably in the right neighborhood.

And let's quit having to rebuild schools every 20 years because we are too stupid to do it right to begin with (e.g. flat roofs) (same principle for roads and such)

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Pelegius
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7k per anum? What are we going to be teaching these kids, flower arranging? Auto Maintenance? At the high school level, teachers should have at least a Masters degree and several years experience. Assuming we keep class sizes at a reasonable 15 per classroom, with a student teacher ratio of about 10:1, your teacher will be making between U.S.$20,000 and U.S. $30,000. That is not too bad, but Capitalism is about the monetary incentive to work. I am afraid that incentive won't be there for many with that salary.
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WarrsawPact
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This question has serious problems in the first place.

The proper answer to how much should be spent on education depends entirely on what you expect to get out of the student, and...
It's important to ask how the money is collected and distributed in the first place.

As to the first problem: not every kid gets to be an astronaut, but we do want to give kids the opportunity and encouragement to make something useful out of themselves.
Do you want every kid to speak and write English fluently? Do you want every kid to be functionally literate, or do you want some other (maximizing?) stnadard of literacy? How much are you willing to sacrifice to make sure that every kid -- even the ones that don't care about the lessons and seem duty-bound to become auto mechanics -- can read and understand Shakespeare?

Must every child get through Geometry before leaving high school? All levels of Algebra? Precalculus? Higher?

At some point, you have to set your expectations somewhere. I say:
  • A populace that is educated toward productive ends -- that is, in the many fields that actually produce results -- produces a society that can compete in the world. An educated populace is the most lucrative resource in any society.
  • No matter the cost, the interests of the State are to get the best return on whatever investment they make. If the costs are ludicrously high, but the returns are also, then it's worth it.
  • Our interests must also take into account the need to stay ahead of any challengers to our leadership in the society of states. That is, those who owe their loyalty to us must stay far enough ahead in innovation to empower Us to stay ahead of Them. This can take on the characteristics of an arms race.

I don't think anyone has a solid number on how many dollars should be spent per student. The answer is "enough." Enough to attract teachers, enough to provide the proper infrastructure, etc. This means you have to merciless in cutting fat like new book editions and top-heavy bureaucracies. There are cheaper, easier ways to get what you need... if you're free of the miles of red tape that require that schools do things in particular ways. Schools could get a much better return if they were free to respond to price pressures -- with intense local accountability measures.
In my opinion, for another example, sports teams are not nearly productive enough to merit state spending. They should be paid for by the community directly, not by school funds. What is the state's return on funding sports programs? A small number of millionaires and sports arenas?
-=-=-=-
Actually, I'm trying to think of a way to provide financial incentives for schools to produce the most successful students without screwing over the existing poorest kids.

Here's an idea.
* Schools act as private institutions, "hiring" and "firing" kids based on performance.
* The thing that makes them different from colleges is, they have the funds to provide transport to any kid who's willing to attend their school. So if a Student lives 30 miles from the school that badly wants him to attend, they simply provide any necessary funds to get him there.
* Schools get the minimum funds necessary to provide infrastructure and nutrition and the aforementioned transportation. The rest comes from the community -- they'll have as good a school as they're willing to pay for. And aside from donating to the PTA, rules strictly governing the donation of money to non-community schools would prevent the rich from abusing this system.
* If the community is too poor or too tight with money to provide for a good school in their own community, they'll have a low-quality school that attracts bad students (or at least the bottom of the barrel). But every cent they pay into a school is rewarded since the school has whatever funds are necessary to transport kids from tens of miles away to attend, and an increase in the quality of education there will attract good students even if the family of those good students couldn't normally afford to live in that neighborhood. It'd be a race to the top.
* So communities would want their school to be well-known for being a good school at providing something -- maybe sports, for example. That school could be a great football school, and could farm out players from across the tri-county area seeking out an awesome football team that would attract the attention of colleges and so forth. Another school might have a reputation for producing engineers who go to elite technical schools.
* And if kids really wanted to attend that elite engineering school, they'd have to perform spectacularly in math and science (and probably related subjects, just like colleges look for well-rounded students today -- many schools might just want to produce an extremely well-rounded student body that joins the university mainstream in large numbers). If they didn't make the cut, they'd be relegated to a lesser school.

Now, as I see it, this would result in a widespread "the good get out" attitude. Kids and families would be scrambling to get within busing distance of a good school, and kids would work their tail off so as to be attractive to better schools -- because the alternative is to go to an uncompetetive school.
Meanwhile, the rich-poor gap wouldn't be nearly so self-reinforcing. A rich dad with a lazy son wouldn't be able to bankroll his kid to success unless he chose to send his kid to a private school, and if he and all the other rich moms and dads in the community choose to neglect the community school, they'll have poor (that is, low-performance) students being bused into their community. Through local accountability, they could act in their own best interests by making damn sure that their school is good -- and if their kid kept his grades up, he wouldn't have to be bused halfway across the county to go to school.

Again, the incentive for each school would be to simply produce results.
"Now," you're thinking, "what about the inevitability of the schools that produce the worst results? Wouldn't they be hives of underperformance that would keep any kid who was relegated to such a school from being able to rise up from his pathetic condition?"
Maybe. Or maybe the community would have to put up the funds to attract the best teachers possible, making an investment in the future. No community would want to play host to the worst students in the tri-county area.
And maybe, that kid would bust his ass in his studies so that next semester, he can apply to another, better, school in the area. It's his future.

The only thing I'm worried about is providing opportunity. You can lead a horse to water, etc. If a kid chooses to fail, we can't stop him. If he chooses to succeed, though, he'll have to prove his mettle. The patterns of who gets into what university would emerge quite clearly.

And meanwhile, the schools should be able to hire and fire teachers based on their performance too. If they have the money from the community to hire the best teachers they can afford, they should be able to demand results -- and indeed, the community will demand returns on its money. I can just see my old high school now... and my community busting its butt to pay enough to attract teachers with proper credentials.
Community accountability would ensure that they get the best they can get for their money, and don't waste one unnecessary dime on dumb things like buying the 13th Edition textbooks when a nearly exactly similar 12th Edition is only a year old and selling for three-quarters of the price on the internet.

Schools that succeed would have a culture of success, and schools that fail would have a culture of failure that potentially underperforming kids would scramble to get away from.

Just tossing ideas around. What do you think?

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KnightEnder
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It is ridiculous, after taxes, how much "extra" money parents have to pay for school equipment, books, special calculators, and God forbid they want to play the trumpet ($500). Or am I just suffering because I choose to move to the best public school system in Texas?

KE

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Pelegius
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WP, a good start would be if everyone took the following courses:
Maths:
Algebra I
Geometry
Algebra II
Trig.
Science:
Physics
Chemistry
Biology
History:
Anc. World Civ.
Modern World Civ. OR Western Civ.
U.S. History
Another course of students choice.
Language:
4 years of a Language.
English:
American Lit.
Brit. Lit.
World Lit. (2 years)
Philosophy:
Intro to Philosophy
Arts:
At least 1 year of Art (Theatre, Music or visual.)

This list is basic for anyone. Those planing to attend more selective Colleges need a more challenging Curriculum.

[ November 24, 2005, 06:18 PM: Message edited by: Pelegius ]

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LetterRip
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I think the goal that 'every' student are unrealistic merely due to some purely organic issues that we don't have the capability to solve. Ie severe disabilities such as retardation is going to prevent someone from doing algrebra regardless of the amount invested in their education.

We want the vast majority of students to be educated as well as they can be - to the maximum of their ability. The stupid statements about we'll always need menial laborers - the percentage of the population engaged in such activity could be drasticly reduced. The only reason why we use so much labor is that generally the knowledge and skill is not enough to make them greatly more productive elsewhere.

KE,

500$ trumpet - ebay I could find new with shipping 150$, I'm curious as to the pricing difference.

LetterRip

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Pelegius
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I meant every student in "normal" non-special ed classes.
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WarrsawPact
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LetterRip -
quote:
We want the vast majority of students to be educated as well as they can be - to the maximum of their ability.
Yeah, you "want" that -- but what are you willing to pay to ensure that they are? I mean, we could keep kids in school til they're 30 teaching them everything on an incredibly broad curriciulum, but where does society's return on its investment diminish too much?

I mean, not everyone can use music or art in the profession they're going to end up in. I can't, for the life of me, see why this must be necessary -- though I agree that it's beneficial. Well, a lot of classes would be beneficial...

Which brings me to...
Pelegius:

Why does every American child require British literature class? Or "World lit"? Or four years of a foreign language? Is that so fundamental to the establishment of an American citizen that it must be required?

I think we need to have every American child (who is physically capable of independence -- not profoundly handicapped, etc.) empowered by the age of 18 to
  • do the basic math needed to survive -- that is, at least enough to calculate money and interest;
  • be able to read English and form coherent English sentences in writing and speech;
  • know enough about the US government/law, economics, and history to participate competently in public decision-making;
  • take care of their own health and hygiene; and
  • know basic logical rigor (and thus know how to form a logical argument).

Those are the fundamental basics so that they know how to survive in modern society. Most of those should come long before 18, but those are the absolute minimums for a representative republic of our sophistication.

After that, it's up to the student to pursue interests and, with guidance, build a foundation for the future... but ensuring that they do stay in school is healthy for the state too.
I would encourage knowledge of the sciences and more complex maths, but not at the expense of those basics above. I would encourage literature, of course, and quite a bit of history, and the arts, but again -- not at the expense of those basics, and not so much that I make them "requirements" for all of society. I don't see an argument for why every American citizen must know about the arts, or must know Algebra II, or must know any particular brand of literature or history (besides enough of American history to participate competently in our society).

If we could administer these courses Matrix-style, or in pill form, yeah sure, pile up the required courses as high as possible. But you need to set goals, and realistic ones at that... ones that always give a return on the money. The kinds of courses where if the horse is led to water but doesn't drink, it'll soon die.

[ November 24, 2005, 11:26 PM: Message edited by: WarrsawPact ]

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Lewkowski
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"Wow, I love how your high end is 5,000. You realize that means we'd be paying teachers about 15,000 dollars a year, right? "

Um no. How did you come up with those numbers?

"So I'd say that $20,000/year/student is a low figure for elementary through secondary school, since this would also have to cover teacher salaries, etc. "

$20,000/year/student. The heck? No school in the country does that. That means your paying for 12 grades... 20,000 a year thats what 240,000 to educate a child? How about you just give the child 240,000 and let interest grow on it and he'll be set for life.

You want the government to spend Two Hundred and Fourty THOUSAND dollars per child 1-12? Wow. WOW.

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LetterRip
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WarsawPact,

quote:
Yeah, you "want" that -- but what are you willing to pay to ensure that they are? I mean, we could keep kids in school til they're 30 teaching them everything on an incredibly broad curriciulum, but where does society's return on its investment diminish too much?
Yep, clearly I agree that we should have minimum thresholds of achievement, but we should also perhaps set some 'pie in the sky' goals as well.

Most students are capable of being educated far better than they already are. It is mostly a motivation issue.

I agree with your questioning of many of Pelegius suggested requirements. For instance while I enjoy a number of literature fields, I can't really see any justification for Pelgius choices. I think I outlined on this site long ago what the goals of public education should be - competent citizens; skilled and knowledgable workers, creators, and entrepenuers with the skills and knowledge to further their capabilities; and some practical living skills. Of course parents should also educating their children in these areas.

I agree with your basic list - but without actually fairly good knowledge of mathematics/statistics, science, and economics your goal of

quote:
know enough about the US government/law, economics, and history to participate competently in public decision-making;
are impossible.

Also as to

quote:
know basic logical rigor (and thus know how to form a logical argument).
I think that is too abstract, and insufficient. A deeply needed skill is to be able to spot decietful and misleading phrasing and information as is extremely common among advertisers, politicians, and advocacy groups.

That ability is extremely important for both compent living and for competent political process participation.

LetterRip

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WarrsawPact
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Introductory economics doesn't even require second-year algebra. Intermediate Econ needs, y'know, calculus, but that's an altogether different story [Smile]

As for science, yeah, some science (and health knowledge for that matter) is definitely needed to made public decisions (like choosing between different views on the environment). Economics I actually included in my list. [Smile]

As for logic, no, logic isn't too abstract to make for a class. We've got one at my community college -- it's just a practical course about logic, arguments, deduction, fallacies, etc. That, and being able to transfer this knowledge over to English and forming arguments with clarity is all I need regular people to be able to do.

Now, as for applying logic to the real world, that's something you have to learn as you go... and it's very different in different fields of study. But the foundation needs to be there.

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philnotfil
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quote:
Originally posted by LetterRip:

KE,

500$ trumpet - ebay I could find new with shipping 150$, I'm curious as to the pricing difference.

LetterRip [/QB]

Quality, that new one for $150 is a piece of junk that most repair shops won't even work on. If you give it to the average middle school kid it will be worthless by the end of the year.

The one for $500 will last for just about as long as you don't run over it with a car.


Back on topic:
I think that we should stop focusing so much on K-12 education and just focus on helping people get educated. Granted it is easier for most people to get an education why they are young, but there are tons of people out there who now realize that they need to know more to get to where they want to be. Colleges are seeing huge increases in the number of "non-traditional" applicants. It needs to be easier for people who want to get an education to get one. A GED is not enough. People in GED programs are taugh as if they were stupid. If they were stupid they wouldn't have come back to school. For the most part they were unmotivated. Now they are reaedy to learn, don't they deserve a quality educational experience? Why society be better off if they get it?


As for what people should know, I don't think we need to go as far into math as some people think. I also think that a lot of the things I see being listed are only important because they help us understand other things. It would be much more useful to the students if they were taught math in their government classes, and taught great literature and art in their history classes. Put it where it has meaning. It is one thing to say to a student that it will be important when they are older, it is a completely different thing (and much more effective) to let them see it in its natural habitat and know why it is important.

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Pelegius
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WP, that is what is required by almost any University. Brit Lit a World Lit. are already standered classes.

The goal of education is to create Philosopher-Voters, capable of shaping the World. That is the Humanist view which has been most common since Pico de Mirandolla.

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Paladine
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quote:
The goal of education is to create Philosopher-Voters, capable of shaping the World.
My family's comprised largely of educators, and I doubt even one of them would agree with this statement. You really think the goal of a public High School is to create "Philosopher-Voters, capable of shaping the World"?

[ November 25, 2005, 03:26 PM: Message edited by: Paladine ]

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Everard
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I know I disagree, and I'm an educator. My brother disagrees, too, and he teaches high school english. Oh. And my mom and grandmother disagree. And they both have been educators of one kind or another most of their lives.

Part of the goal of education is certainly to give them the tools to be informed voters. And another part is certainly to make them aware that the world can be shaped. But the main purpose of education is to give people the tools and background they need to persue whatever they view as an ideal path.

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