Logical Gal and illusions about education dollars

23 Jun

Education Dollars - scales

I live in North Carolina and ‘Low Teacher Salaries’ is a hot topic.  (For the record, I teach in a private school where we earn even less than the public sector).  But I follow the debate with interest because the rhetoric is flung around thickly.

Here’s a quote that was highlighted within an article in our local weekly paper:

  • “If given the choice, would you enroll your child in a state that is 48th in per pupil spending?”

What is implied by that question? (which is actually NOT a question but an assertion masquerading as a question)

  1. You have to spend a lot of money to educate a child well
  2. Money is the # 1 predictor of good education

What don’t we know?

  • whether all 50 states actually spend close to the same.   What if NC truly is 48th in spending, but the variance among state budgets is pretty narrow?
  • whether the quality of students graduating from secondary schools and universities is a problem
  • what the end product (i.e. students) is like in states that spend the most
  • what the difference in dollars goes to in states that spend more
  • what ‘per pupil spending’ actually includes.  What goes into that figure?  Does more money go directly to teacher salaries?  And if so, is there a correlation between better -paid teachers and quality education as measured again by the end product?

Here are some FACTS to consider:


  • The city of Washington, DC spent an average of $29,349 per student in 2010-11 and 81 % were not proficient in either reading NOR math.
  • North Carolina spent $8,433 per pupil during the 2012-2013 school year.
  • The average among all 50 states was $11,068 for the same 2012-2013 window.

Questions for further reflection:

  • What does the average home-schooling family spend per pupil?
  • How much is the average private school tuition?
  • What about on-line schools that are growing in both accessibility and quality?


Here’s the bottom line for ANY issue:

You can’t have a useful discussion without taking TIME to flesh out hidden assumptions and facts!







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