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Sunday, July 10, 2011

Why we are spending more money on education

30 Years ago we spent barely anything on disabled children, where now it is about a fifth of our education budget.

We now spend hundreds of millions of dollars on high stakes testing much of which goes to corporations interested in the bottom line not our children. Politicians not educators thought up this ideal and George and Jeb Bush’s brother Neil benefited greatly from the FCAT and NCLB.

Technology isn't cheap. Some might argue all we need is a blackboard, chalk and books, but that does not prepare children for how the world works today.

In Florida the citizenry has twice advocated for smaller class sizes, the one reform with evidence that says it works (not merit pay, vouchers, charter and virtual schools) and smaller classes mean more teachers and classrooms that don’t just magically appear.

When we factor out poverty and a fifth of our kids live in it and another fifth just above it, our students zoom to the top of international rankings. Do we have a school problem or do we have a society problem when we think it's okay that a fifth of our kids live in poverty? Poverty by the way is the number one measurable factor for how kids do in school. Kids that live in poverty as a group do a lot worse than kids who don’t.

Also things are just more expensive in 2011 than they were in 1976.

Education has issues and I believe one of the main ones is we put every kid into a one size fits all track where everybody is going to go to college. That is just not the case and we should plan accordingly. We need to have multiple tracks that teach trades and skills and to and make education more relevant to the 21st century student.

Another issue is a meddling government that wants to privatize education and take away much needed resources and put that money in the hands of people who are interested in profit margin not our children and who also go with reforms (charter schools, merit pay etc.) that have been proven not to work but for some reason sound good to them.

Finally there are the people who wax poetically about education, complaining we are spending to much but they haven't been in schools, have no real information about what is going on and who are only capable of regurgitating talking points that back up their ignorant and preconceived notions.

Evidence and facts have no bearing on what they think; I hope it does on yours.

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