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Valuing Education?

from Peter Radford

Ben Casselman at fivethirtyeight.com throws us some back to school numbers. They make for depressing reading. America is not committed to education, far from it. Priorities seem to be elsewhere. And short term thinking dominates. Here are a few key highlights:

  • The US had roughly 8.4 million teachers back in 2008. Now it has 8.2 million
  • This is despite adding about 1 million new students
  • So student/teacher ratios have risen back to levels last seen in the 1990’s
  • School funding has fallen 6.6% at the sate level, and 1% at the local level [local governments supply about 45% of all school funding]
  • Federal funding has increased but not by enough to prevent a total decline in funding of about 2.4% in real terms
  • Fifteen states cut funding between 2000 and 2014 by more than 10%, with Arizona leading the way by cutting around 25%
  • Some states have increased spending – oil boom rich North Dakota doubled spending between 2008 and 2014
  • Weekly wages for teachers have declined 5% over the last five years, causing teaching to become even less attractive as a career for college educated people
  • Things are about to get worse: baby boom retirement will put pressure on local and state budgets as health care costs rise and retirement costs need to be funded

And yet we hear platitude after platitude from politicians all arguing that America needs to bolster its workforce in order to compete globally.


I don’t see that in the numbers.

What am I missing?

Thanks, Ben, I wonder if anyone is listening.

  1. jlegge
    August 31, 2016 at 3:38 am

    Peter nails it when he calls politicians’ utterances “platitudes.” Actions speak louder than words: large numbers, possibly even a majority, of young Americans have been abandoned as unnecessary to the prosperity of the 1 per cent. Trump won’t solve their problems, but he will enable them to express their rage.

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