Schools should give more bang for the buck

I have finally been convinced: I now know that public schooling is better than home-schooling. According to a U.S. Census Bureau survey on public school spending in 2003-2004, the state of Pennsylvania spent more than $9,900 on each public school student in Pennsylvania. With all that money going into their education, public school students must be way smarter than I am.

How can schools spend that much per student and not give students a phenomenal education? How can schools even spend that much? My parents spend less than $1,000 a year on textbooks for me and my two brothers. I guess we’re missing out on real education.
Something has to be wrong. Either the money schools receive isn’t going fully towards students’ education, or the method being used to educate the students is not working very well. The problem is probably a combination of both. How can it be solved?
I know: more money.
The Census Bureau survey gives the statistics on spending in 2004. Two years have passed since then, and almost every newspaper article I’ve read on local schools’ spending has said that school boards are raising taxes.
If $9,900 per student does not guarantee a great education, more money will not help. The state of Pennsylvania could learn from home-school families’ economy. At least in my family, we spend much less than what Pennsylvania spends per student. And my brothers and I are getting a good education.
Believe me, I am learning a lot. This is my senior year, and I’ll be taking Shakespeare, French, philosophy, quantum mechanics (very cool), differential equations, physics with calculus, chemistry, human physiology, calculus III, British literature, and I’ll stop before I scare anyone else.
Everything about a public school should be directed toward giving students the best education possible. That is the goal, a good education. Before it is used for anything else, the money ought to go toward educating the students better. The money comes from taxes, so it ought to be spent wisely and for the right reasons. If schools can put their whole effort into improving education, education might cost less.
Another way schools can do better is to get teachers and students to work harder. Teachers could spend more time making sure each student understands the material, and students ought to spend more time studying the material. Maybe teachers should get a little more of that $9,900 per student.
Here’s an idea: Pennsylvania could give home-school families some of the money. Home-school families pay taxes for schools their children don’t even attend, and they educate their students better and spend less money. If we didn’t home-school, Pennsylvania would have to spend more money, and we might not get as good of an education as we could at home. Home-schoolers relieve some of the burden on Pennsylvania. If Pennsylvania encouraged home-schooling, the state might save money. So pay up, Pennsylvania.
That will never happen, and I’m not sure that it should. But with all the money going toward public schools, the schools ought to do a better job than they do now.
Jake Mokris is home-schooled student and member of the Teen Takeover staff.

About Scott Fisher

I'm opinion page editor and blogging coordinator for the York Daily Record/Sunday News and Phone: 717-771-2049. Email: Twitter: YDReditpage.
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6 Responses to Schools should give more bang for the buck

  1. Nathan says:

    Right on, Jake! I commend you. However, how much of that 9,000 per student actually goes for educational materials? Not much. Schools these days are more concerned about athletics than academics. Look at the brand new C.Y.H.S. and the recent vote from the school board. They voted 8-21 to add a new pool, 2 more locker rooms ( even though we have 6 brand new ones already), and they requested a new cafeteria ( the current one takes up about 1/4 of the school). So, when you boil it down, 9,000 per student equals about 1200 per student for educational materials.

  2. Megan says:

    The $9,900 per student statistic that you quoted does not just go toward textbooks – there’s food, insurance, salaries for teachers and administrators, equipment (desks and stuff), sports programs, music programs and the list goes on. Textbooks are a very small part of all a school has to pay for. Add that up and I think you’ll see there’s a lot that $9,900 must pay for.
    And school boards often have to raise taxes because their expenses go up. It’s called inflation (and high gas prices).
    To each his own, but don’t knock public education until you tried it.

  3. Jess Malone says:

    Homeschooling is not the solution to a better educated youth. Niether is less money.
    You’re absolutely right when you say that at $9,900 per student, kids in PA should have learned quite a bit during the 2003-2004 school year. But the problems with America’s public education system are more fundamental than finances or laziness on part of the students and/or teachers. What good can $9,900 a year do if students are only in class roughly six hours a day? And how much can a teacher or student accomplish when only fourty-five minutes are given to each subject before they have to pack up and move on? Many of the homeschooled students I’ve met forget that, for their publicly educated fellows, the day ends when the bell rings. How much material can they have absorbed by unpacking and repacking their textbooks? Teachers do their best to alleviate this shortage of time by assigning homework and research papers, but with techniques such as this the public school student is then left to learn for him or herself – something else the public school system failed to teach them.
    Another problem with this post-class learning approach, is that not all parents are or can be as dedicated to their children as homeschooling parents are. Most middle class families (and certainly lower class families) simply cannot afford to take the time to sit down and help their child(ren) with their latest book report(s). In the cases of most families nowadays, both parents work so that they can buy groceries, make the mortgage, pay the taxes that help to educate their children. Because even if that education is inferior, it’s all that’s availible to them.
    And even if public education is academically inferior to homeschooling, there are other things to be learned that cannot be read in books or observed in the family room. In many instances homeschooled children are aware only of their own circumstances – they have no understanding of or appreciation for the lifestyles of their peers because they are never confronted with them. Homeschooled students often lack an empathy for their fellows because they’ve never seen the shame in the faces of those students who couldn’t afford to bring or buy a lunch; they haven’t seen the way students sometimes peck at a keyboard because they so rarely have the oppurtunity to use one; they haven’t seen teachers’ frustration with their inability to provide the right circumstances for either their brightest or most troubled students. I know they lack this empathy because it is a feeling my public school days taught me to feel deeply and acutely, and because so many homeschooled students have instead learned to wonder why, oh why their families have to pay school taxes.

  4. Nathan says:

    From the prespective of a public school graduate: I would agree with Jake that homeschooling is adacdemically superior to public education. First, Jake will be taking classes in his senior year that I have never had or will never take in college. Second, they don’t have to succumb to political correctness or to the teachers union.
    As for homeschoolers being socially inferior, that’s a myth. They are allowed to particiapte in sports, art, music and other groups through their public school district because they still pay taxes ( just as Jake mentioned). They also participate in community service, so they do see “the other side.”

  5. Kathy says:

    Food for thought:
    A quick check on the internet shows that the tuition for a private school in the area ranges from roughly $3000 to $7000. Theoretically, York public schools could save money by sending students to private schools.
    The yearly tuition for York College is less than $12,000 for commuters.
    The above comments brought up some interesting points. Students don’t spend enough time learning their subjects. I believe that it’s not money or teachers that ultimately decide a student’s success. The key factor is students spending considerable time digesting information from lectures and books, working on math or science problems, and practicing writing assignments. Time spent, not money wasted.
    Today’s school systems have grown and added so many different subjects, sports, and activities that the basics of learning is lost amid the shuffle. Students don’t have the time or desire to study independently because they spend that time and that focus on other activities. Many students just can’t take it all in – all those extras that we’re paying for – and also do well in the basics of learning. Still, we build bigger and more “loaded” schools, somehow believing that money and more programs will make things better.
    Jess and Megan above should realize that many homeschool families have tried public schools. Most homeschool families live on a tight budget and sacrifice greatly so that they can homeschool. They think hard and wisely before spending their precious money. I’m not against paying some taxes for public schooling. I am against building schools with country club facilities and basically allowing the school boards a blank check to spend and the power to make me pay for their wastefulness.
    I find it humorous that Jess tries to knock homeschooling by claiming that homeschoolers don’t have empathy for those less fortunate. We’re talking about the best way to educate and the best way to spend tax payer money. The fact is, the public school systems spend way too much money and don’t want competition or criticism from anyone. Those supporting the school system feel the same way. Rightly, criticisms should go to those who are spending your money, not those who are trying to find a better way.

  6. jimmy house says:

    this site is unreliable

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