It's considered a truism that education is woefully underfunded.
My state spends average $10.5K per pupil. I priced the private schools in my area, which (not counting the elite prep school, which I think includes room and board anyway) range from $4-point something K to $6-point-something K. So public education costs from half again as much to over double as much as private education in my city.
In New York (and I'd read this before), public education, including the grimy schools turning out functionally illiterate grades, costs about the same as an elite prep school (presumably without room and board). To be fair, I have the impression that the magnet schools are cheaper; have not confirmed this.
What's the difference? What should we do about it? And what lessons should we draw, that might help us more effectively?
This article is a bit out of date, but discusses how this works out in NYC between parochial and public schools, and what doesn't account for the differences in performance.
If I have time, I'll see if I can find information about relative costs of magnet schools.
Underfunded? You cannot be serious. Perhaps I am just missing your point.
OP edited to clarify. I should have said considered a truism.
In Texas, one of the things school choice advocates tend to overlook is that part of the reason charter schools have better outcomes is because they: (1) do spend more money per pupil than area public schools, and (2) the kids who are there actually want to be there.
Re the CNN report, I'm going to say the un-PC thing and point out that Utah's low per student spending might have to do with the fact that virtually all of its students are white and most are members of a religion that uses its high membership dues from its relatively well-to-do congregants to finance what is essentially a private welfare state. Look at the kind of kids who attend DC public schools (highest per pupil spending). Mormons don't pop out crack babies with learning disabilities that need a litany of specialists and regular testing. Mormons' moms aren't high school dropouts working multiple jobs.
As for private schools, they simply aren't worth it unless you're going to send your child to one of the better ones, and those do cost more than per-student public school spending does. If you want to know whether a private school is good or not, ask to see a list of where their last senior class is attending college. If they're attending the same schools as the kids at the public school you're zoned to, why bother?
My mother teaches remedial English at a community college and she has told me that she gets two kinds of kids: (1) the ones from the terrible high schools in the bad neighborhoods - these kids are often either African-American or 1st/2nd gen Hispanic or Asian immigrants; and (2) the ones from the "private Christian academies" that cost under $10K a year and usually include a creationist biology department and football coaches teaching history. If my kid was going to end up in remedial English at the local community college, I'd rather they get there by way of the local public school than shell out thousands of dollars extra a year for the privilege.
Our local private schools, including the ones that cost less than public education (which is all but one), include some impressive rates of sending graduates to college (Catholic school: 100%; classical education school: 100%). The "classical education" school teaches them Latin and Greek as well. It's clear that private education in my area is capable of far outperforming public, while costing about half as much.
It may be capable of underperforming it, too; I didn't pay much attention to those that didn't impress me.
His question was which colleges. Not that they went to college.
some impressive rates of sending graduates to college (Catholic school: 100%; classical education school: 100%
That could cover everything from Princeton to remedial English at the local community college.
You might ask how plausible it is that local high schools whose grads don't all go to college (the highest public HS percentage is 70%, with the runners-up being 62% and 60%) sends most of those who do go to high-tier colleges than the 100% successful college prep schools (with grads stuck at the community college because they can't do HS English? Seriously?). The question's obvious enough, isn't it? The ones that send 'em all will prepare them better. It's their job, and if they don't do it, they lose.
The interesting thing to me is that they do so at such lower cost.
Your mother's experience, I think, is unlikely to be with alumni of college-prep schools.
Again, who decides when a private school is a "college prep school" and when one isn't? It's almost a meaningless term since the goal of all schools should be to prepare their students for some sort of post-secondary education, whether that's a four year degree or a machine tech certificate.
But ultimately, it costs more to educate a child that can't/won't learn than one that can/will. Public schools have both of those groups of kids. Private schools, for the most part, only have the last group. If public schools unilaterally expelled all of their learning disabled, handicapped or otherwise "difficult" students, they could get rid of a significant portion of the "administrators" anti-public school types complain about (their definition of an administrator is anyone who isn't standing in front of a blackboard 7 hours a day) and lower their per student spending substantially. They also wouldn't be able to fulfill their duty as public schools, which is to provide an education for all children that is paid for by the public for the public benefit.
If you want to see what vouchers look like in practice, look at Louisiana a year or two from now. It is a well-known fact that Louisiana's public schools are abysmally bad (though just about anything Louisianans do, they do badly, so I'm not sure what the surprise is there). So Bobby Jindal decides to make people eligible for vouchers starting this school year; for every voucher that gets used, the school district that kid is in gets its funding cut by a commensurate amount. Paying for poor kids to go to better schools sounds like something everyone should get behind. But the devil is in the details...
(1) Private schools do not have to take the vouchers. And there's little incentive for them to do so - whether they're getting their tuition money from the parents or from the state, they're still getting the same amount of money. There is, however, a tremendous disincentive. Parents don't just send their kids to XYZ Academy for the education; they send them there for the "atmosphere." And that "atmosphere" gets less pleasant when Andrew and Madeline are suddenly sitting next to Jamal and Shanequa. Especially in Louisiana.
(2) The private schools that will accept the vouchers are going to be the ones that can't get enough fee-paying students and view it as free money. There are already private schools in the state that have allocated a majority of their seats for voucher students. Here are a couple of examples:
New Living Word School - a "non-denominational" Christian school run by New Living Word Ministries. They have more than doubled their enrollment capacity in anticipation of the implementation of the voucher program, without actually spending any money on buildings or computers. Is this going to improve the education prospects of poor kids in northern Louisiana, or is it going to use taxpayer dollars to line the pockets of the church's pastor Jerry Baldwin, an ex-football coach who has no theological or educational credentials whatsoever?
Eternity Christian Academy - look at their website and tell me this isn't the biggest sham you've ever seen. They say they offer "on-sight tutoring" (you expect them to teach kids to spell when they can't?).
Louisiana already has a two-tier education system: good or decent private schools for those who can afford them, and awesomely bad public schools for the rest. School choice does nothing more than replace the bad public lower tier with a bad private lower tier.
It will allow shady urban entrepreneurs to defraud taxpayers under the guise of education and "jobs for the community," and it will allow the right wing to achieve their dream of the Christian equivalent of Islamic madrassahs, a mediocre education system for the poor dominated by religious fundamentalists with little to no oversight.
(1) ... sitting next to Jamal and Shanequa....
WOW, really? Racist much?
If a parent or parents use the voucher system to send their kids to private school I would expect them to be of the mind that they want their kid to succeed and would be more involved than someone who would just leave their kid in a bad public school, regardless of race or religion.
A few huge points about why "primary education" costs so much.
First, Private and Charter Schools have a selected population. The Public Schools have to take eeverybody who can make it through the door.
Second, the Public Schools have to "Mainstream" every child with a possible chance of being functional in a class setting. Anecdotal evidence here. The few times I was present in my daughter's 3rd & 4th grade classes, the teacher had to spend approximately half her time dealing with the 3 out of 30 kids who just could or would not stay seated or quiet.
Third, the curriculum has gotten a bit ridiculously complex for the elementary grades. No one has any time for the early-on rote drills needed to master handwriting and basic math and language skills. I do not insist on cursive, but when I see students' block printing that is nearly illegible at a Middle School parents' night, I know something has gone quite wrong in the elementary school. I know children who understand basic algebraic and geometry theory by the sixth grade, but can't do basic multiplication or short division without a calculator.
You can bet that those kids who can't write are quite capable of filling in a little bubble because that is on the state or national tests that the teachers are teaching towards.
I had a nice snarky reply ready, but no, I won't yield to the temptation.
To expand a bit, Private and Charter schools automatically have a pre-selected student population. The parents of the enrolled students are the selectors, not the schools.
Although my personal expeout of the "Mainstreamriences are both personal and anecdotal, there are times when a child with whatever sort of "Special Needs" simply cannot be "Mainstreamed", no matter how much that child's parents desire it.
Reportedly, there is at least one elementary school in my local school district that essentially has a "Spanish Special Needs" program for incoming kindergarteners. In that instance, it is a combination of poor English language skills and a different "early-childhood socialization".
My daughter had a "Special Need", that was addressed calmly, purposefully and successfully by pulling her slightly out of the "Mainstream" to address the problem. Unfortunately, there seems to be a population of parents who refuse to believe their children are less than perfect, and resort to the courts to force the public school district to provide "equal", i.e., "Mainstreamed" education to their children, regardless of the finacial, social or educational costs.
Lastly, the educational establishment seems to be wedded to the idea of the early to mid 20th century US nuclear family, with one "breadwinner" and a "stay at home parent". That particular model hasn't existed for many families for the past few decades. Also, and this may be an artifact of my age and possibly failing memory, but I do not recall my parents being tasked with doing the number of math and English drills that my wife and I got hit with when our eldest child entered elementary school. I recall doing a lot of that sort of work in the classroom, and not being tasked to have my parents prepare flashcards and do extensive math and reading drills at home.