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But in educational achievement, we are not even close to the
Education Association just came out with a “research” report which should be
taken about as seriously as the Tobacco Institute study that denied the link
between smoking and lung cancer. The “Rankings of the States 2012 and Estimates
of School Statistics 2013”reportis filled with half-truths and worse. The summary tells us that
education is hurting in America and the problems revolve around the fact that
we don’t spend enough. We are led to believe that per-student spending is
insufficient, we don’t pay our teachers enough, and class sizes are too big.
But then, lo and behold, we get a realstudyfrom The Organisation for Economic Co-operation
and Development (OECD) which historically has supplied us with objective international
comparisons. Released last week, their latest, a 440 page tome, is filled with
statistics that lay to waste much of the NEA’s tired plea for more spending on
From an Associated
Presssummaryof the report, we learn that,
The United States
spent more than $11,000 per elementary student in 2010 and more than $12,000
per high school student. When researchers factored in the cost for programs
after high school education such as college or vocational training,the United States spent
$15,171 on each young person in the system—more than any other nation covered
in the report.(Emphasis added.) That sum inched past
some developed countries and far surpassed others. Switzerland’s total spending
per student was $14,922 while Mexico averaged $2,993 in 2010. The average OECD
nation spent $9,313 per young person.
According to NEA’s way of thinking, being the top spender should
result in the U.S. producing the best students, but this is not the case. In
fact, far from it.
are 11th in the world in math in the Trends in International Mathematics and
Science Study, a separate measure of nations against each other. U.S.
eighth-graders ranked ninth in math, according to those 2011 results.The Program for
International Student Assessment measurement found the United States ranked
31st in math literacy among 15-year-old students and below the international
average. The same 2009 tests found the United States ranked 23rd in science
among the same students, but posting an average score.
What about teacher
The OECD report
The average first-year high school teacher in the United States
earns about $38,000. OECD nations pay their comparable educators just more than
$31,000.That trails Luxembourg, which pays its first year teachers more
than $72,000 a year, but far exceeds the $10,000 paid to first-year high school
teachers in Slovakia. Among all educators, U.S. payrolls are competitive. The
average high school teacher in the United States earns about $53,000, well
above the average of $45,500 among all OECD nations.
And of course, the
countries with the smallest class sizes are the most successful, right?
Well, no. There is
absolutely no correlation. For example, countries with about 30 students per
elementary school class – Chile, Japan, Israel and Korea – do better than we do
with about 20 kids per class when it comes to students completing an upper
ViaChoice Media, Paul
Peterson, Director of the Program on Education Policy and Government at Harvard
We do not spend our
money wisely. We don’t have a very competitive system. Anytime a monopoly sends
money, and our education system is a monopoly, is not spending money
efficiently. We don’t hire our teachers the right way. We don’t pay the best
teachers more money and we don’t get rid of our weakest teachers because we pay
everybody the same rate except for their credentials and their years of
experience. We don’t have a way of easing the weakest members of the teaching
force out of the profession.
“Alie told often enough becomes the truth” has been attributed to
Goebbels, Lenin and many others who know the power of a good whopper. Equating
more spending with greater educational achievement is one of the best. The good
news is that the American people are becoming wiser and fewer of us are buying
the lies that the teachers unions are selling.
Larry Sand, a former classroom teacher, is the president of the non-profit California Teachers Empowerment Network – a non-partisan, non-political group dedicated to providing teachers with reliable and balanced information about professional affiliations and positions on educational issues.