What he said

The U.S. is No. 1 in School Spending

Darren Kaplan notes a CNN story that observes that, while we spend the most per student on education in the known universe, the United States is in the middle of the pack when it comes to results. ‘Tell me something I don’t know,’ you say? Well, Kaplan makes a great observation.

Remember that the next time you’re stuck in traffic behind a volvo with one of those inane, “it’ll be a great day when schools have all the money they need and the Pentagon has to hold a bake sale to buy a bomber” bumperstickers.

And what does all that spending get us? Well, the United States, “finished in the middle of the pack in its 15-year-olds’ performance on math, reading and science in 2000, and its high-school graduation rate was below the international average in 2001 . . .”

Returning to the above-referenced bumpersticker, at least the Pentagon produces what is inarguably the best fighting force in the World.

A comeback I’ve received numerous times when I say the Fourth World War is important enough the win regardless of cost in dollars is “Too bad educating kids isn’t so important.” Which obviously isn’t a very good argument. But I’ve never really thought of it this way. Brilliant.

And why is it, although we spend more than anyone else per student, that we’re constantly hearing about sports programs getting cut due to lack of funding? And whining, whining, whining about how homeschooled kids are costing the schools money? (Which is funny in and of itself, since parents of homeshcool children still pay the same taxes as everyone else but don’t require one single penny from the school district. I’m just saying.) And the massive student to teacher ratios? And all this AFTER Coca-Cola pays hundreds of thousands of dollars to be the only soft drink sold at the snack bar. It must be the new math.

Also, in the CNN story, I noticed this:

Federal education spending has grown by $11 billion since President Bush took office…but that includes spending beyond the first 12 grades.

One common scapegoat is standardized testing. Another is the requirement that teachers actually be qualified to teach the subject that they, um, teach. And of course, the story goes that Republicans haven’t spent enough money to make the No Child Left Behind program work. Puh-leeze. We could fight the Global Fourth World War On Terror for two months on that $11 billion. But it’s not enough to teach kids to read well?

When our kids can read and do math as well as our troops can fight, I’ll be willing to talk about more money for education.