Sunday, April 17, 2011

The Purpose of Education Spending

E.D. Kain points out that Americans spend a lot on the military vs. education.  He asks whether Americans need to understand that in order to get better outcomes, they need to spend more.

I think the first question that must be answered is this: what are we spending our money on? Many people don’t understand why we can’t get better results with the money we do spend.  My answer would be that for what we are being asked to do – to “leave no child behind” – we don’t spend enough money, and don’t put the money we do spend where it needs to go.

If we truly believe in educating every child, then we need to acknowledge some of the serious inequities in society today. Rectifying them will require 2-3x investment in disadvantaged communities. What I would like to see, is a means-based model, where individuals are assessed on a family by family basis, and services are provided accordingly.

I’m not sure how much we’ll ever be able to move needle for many of the more dysfunctional families, but there are many things that we know work, but that we simply can’t afford. In the meantime, we can certainly make the job of teaching at more difficult schools easier, by reducing class sizes and adding support – which will require more funding.

The case for more funding must be made in terms of access to equality, not “education” generally. The latter the public may be weary of, while the former it knows intuitively.

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