[FoRK] The Decline of Empires..

J. Andrew Rogers andrew at ceruleansystems.com
Tue Jan 4 11:09:10 PST 2005

Mark wrote:
> As a fraction of GDP spent, U.S. education shows up as just barely
ahead of
> the OECD mean for K-12, behind countries like Sweden, Switzerland,
> Australia, and France.  The U.S. clearly spends a lot more money on
> postsecondary education, which bumps up the total educational spending
> figure a lot.  But I haven't noticed much sentiment in this thread
that says
> colleges are money pits.  

My point boils down to this:

At one time, the US did not spend very much on public education, and got
reasonably good results for it.  People wanted to squeeze even better
results out of the system, which they were told simply required more
money.  Over the years, the amount of spending on education has been
aggressively increased time and again, but the extra results the public
thought they were buying with that spending is nowhere in sight.  Given
that massively increased spending has produced no real return on the
public's investment, why not return to the same K-12 education spending
levels in real dollars that we had before we went on this results-free
spending spree?  Same results, a lot less cost.  We can spend all those
extra tens of billions of dollars a year on medical research or
something else that might give a real return.

We do not need to compare the US education system with other countries,
we can compare it to itself.  In constant terms, the efficiency of the
system has declined with time.  I'd be happy if we simply returned the
efficiency to what it used to be e.g. by cutting the massive amount of
bureaucratic fat that was not there before the teacher's unions started
feeding from a bottomless trough.

j. andrew rogers

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