This is appropriate to re-post as Minnesotans in 75 school districts are facing a vote on levies this November.
There are two things that you probably know about me in reading my little economic posts from time to time;
1. I live in Minneapolis
2. I do not like children.
Thus you can imagine my happiness when I conducted the research for the second portion of my foray into whether or not more money = better schools and found out that not only do Minneapolis property tax payers pay 44% more than the Minnesota average to educate our precious little children, but those children performed 15% below the state average in standardized tests.
Of course many people will claim those tests are biased, archaic and practically racist for they only test those abhorred evil Eurocentric subjects; reading and math (GASP!).
But test them on the merits of diversity and the drawbacks of Western Civilization, America and Capitalism and it will be on par with their indoctrinators’…er…I mean “teachers’” college dissertations.
As an economist I do not so much contest whether everybody should somehow pay to educate our children (I do agree with that), but can we at least get a bang for our buck???
Apparently economic efficiency is not on Education Minnesota’s (teacher’s union) agenda, and especially not so in Minneapolis, for while it takes only $8,739 a year to educate the average Minnesota student, it takes $12,537 to educate the average Minneapolis student (and $15,845 if you include loans and levies).
Alas, I made two calculations.
First, I’m all about the opportunity cost and so I calculated how much it costs to educate a child in the Minneapolis public schools for the 13 years they’re in there (even though some spend a couple more years than that). And this came out to be just shy of $163,000, $3,000 more than what I paid for my house some time ago. And granted property prices have risen, but ask yourself the question;
“Why bother educating some of these morons when they’re only going to go out and live off the system anyway. Hell, just buy them their own damn house and save us the bill on future public housing. Kid is born, and if it doesn’t get its act together by the 1st grade, BOOM, “here ya go kid, the American dream! Now leave us alone and never come back.”
Of course how can you ascertain whether the kid is going to be a good or bad student by the first grade? But you can get a pretty good idea by the 4th or 5th grade I’d imagine. And who says that $12,537 a year can’t be invested in a mutual fund or some other investment? Earning a reasonable 8% a year starting after the 5th grade, there would be over $120,000 in the kid’s housing account. Certainly enough to get them a condo, even in the hot property market of Minneapolis. And who is to say this would be “cruel” or “evil.” We’re buying these losers a free house, the American dream for doing nothing, yet at the same time getting them out of the classroom so the remaining 4 students in the Minneapolis public school system can get a real education uninterrupted.
Now, admitted, I am being a bit satirical, but sadly the economics of it are just so compelling, one really has to wonder if society wouldn’t just be better off doing it this way.
The second calculation I made was to further advance our excursion into the question whether more money = better education. Previously, I looked at state spending per pupil for all 50 states and compared it against average standardized test scores for those states. Interestingly the more spent per pupil the lower the standardized tests scores were for the COLLEGE BOUND, but the higher the standardized test scores were for all students, thus indicating more resources were spent on achieving mediocrity and not excellence.
However, I frankly don’t care too much about what New York spends on its students, for I am not paying the property taxes out there. It’s largely a local issue for me and thus I ran the same correlation for each school district in entire state of Minnesota and the findings were very interesting.
It seems it literally doesn’t matter how much money you spend on education FOR THERE IS NO RELATIONSHIP BETWEEN MONEY SPENT PER PUPIL AND STANDARDIZED TEST SCORES!!!! And if there is one, it’s SLIGHTLY NEGATIVE!
The correlation coefficient between money spent per pupil and the MCA tests (Minnesota’s standardized state tests) is -.08 and -.10 depending on which spending per pupil measure you want to use. And with a sample size of 323 there’s a pretty good statistical argument that this is significant.
In other words the system is bust. Throw all the money you want at the system and it isn’t going to do squat.
Of course, the question is whether you’re going to want to believe this (though since it's factual, I hardly see how one can). No doubt it’s much easier to just regurgitate what the teacher’s union told you to regurgitate. To sit and feel good about yourself when you advocate spending more money on the children. But I wonder, how many of you in Minnesota (right or left) ever bothered to take the time to research this and look it up before taking a position on it and then advocate forcing millions of people to spend billions of dollars on something you truly did not know whether it worked or not.