Schools Failing Taxpayers at More Than $18,000 Per Year

Terry Jeffrey
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Posted: Aug 10, 2016 12:01 AM
Schools Failing Taxpayers at More Than $18,000 Per Year

In Philadelphia, where the Democratic Party held its national convention, the public schools spent a total of $18,241 per student in the 2011-2012 school year, according to the U.S. Department of Education.

In Detroit, where Donald Trump gave a speech on his economic policies this week, the public schools spent a total of $18,361 per student that year.

In Washington, D.C., where the federal government makes its home, it was $23,980.

What did these schools produce while spending more than $18,000 per student? Not well-educated children.

In the Philadelphia public schools in 2015, according to the National Assessment of Educational Progress scores published by the Department of Education, 80 percent of eighth graders were not grade-level proficient in math. Eighty-four percent were not grade-level proficient in reading.

In the Detroit public schools, 96 percent of eighth graders were not grade-level proficient in math. Ninety-three percent were not grade-level proficient in reading.

In the District of Columbia public schools, 83 percent of the eighth graders were not grade-level proficient in math. Eighty-one percent were not grade-level proficient in reading.

If you pay federal taxes -- no matter where you live and no matter where you send your children to school -- you help subsidize the public schools in Philadelphia, Detroit and Washington, D.C.

In fact, if you pay federal taxes you help subsidize the public schools all across America.

In 2012-2013 school year, according to the Department of Education's Digest of Educational Statistics, public elementary and secondary schools took in approximately $603,686,987,000 in revenues. About $55,862,552,000 of that -- or 9.3 percent -- came from the federal government.

Another $273,101,724,000 -- or 45.2 percent -- came from state government, and $274,722,710,000 -- or 45.5 percent -- came from local sources.

Nationwide, public elementary and secondary schools spent $12,010 per student in the 2011-2012 school year. But, in 2015, 68 percent of public-school eighth graders nationwide were not grade-level proficient in math and 67 percent were not grade-level proficient in reading.

In the National Assessment of Educational Progress test in reading in 2015, Catholic school eighth-graders on average outscored public school eighth-graders by 20 points -- 284 to 264.

In math, Catholic school eighth-graders on average outscored public school eighth-graders by 12 points -- 293 to 281.

Yet in the 2011-2012 school year, according to the Digest of Educational Statistics, the average tuition at a Catholic elementary school was $5,330; the average tuition at a Catholic secondary school was $9,790, and the average tuition at a Catholic school that combined elementary and secondary schools was $10,230.

That is less than $12,010 that public elementary and secondary schools spent per student that year.

The cost and the poor performance of public schools in the United States should inspire Congress to do two things: Shut down the federal Department of Education and enact legislation creating complete school choice for families that reside in the District of Columbia.

Voters in states and local communities elsewhere in the country can then decide for themselves whether or not to replace the relatively small percentage of local school revenue that now comes from the federal government.

But the right decision would be for states and local communities to stop giving their education money exclusively to government-run schools.

Instead, they should give that money to parents -- and let parents decide where to send their children to school.

Communities should grant every child in their jurisdiction a voucher worth the same amount of money currently spent per pupil in the local government schools. Then they should let families decide whether they want to send their children to one of those government schools or to a private school.

They should let parents decide not only who will teach their children reading and mathematics but also who will cooperate with them in teaching their children what is right and what is wrong.

The Obama administration is now trying to use that small percentage of public school funding that comes from the federal government to force local public schools to cooperate in advancing the administration's vision of transgenderism.

But American schools do not need transgender bathrooms and locker rooms. They need the complete transformation that will come by getting the federal government entirely out of primary and secondary education and giving all parents unfettered school choice.