DC Public School Spending

As an addendum of sorts to my post from Thursday on failing teachers, here is an interesting fact from John Stossel on the cost of public education in the Washington, DC public school system:

$26,000 for each student signed up at a DC public school. $28,000 for each student who actually attended. Some might say that’s an unfair number because it includes special education students that the private schools supposedly won’t take. But even if you drop the costs of special education students, DC still spends $23,000 per kid. … Turns out that the average voucher school only charges $6,620 (many are catholic schools.) So they cost a quarter of what public schools do, but still they do better! 

In the DC example, add to examples of failing teachers an entire failing (or at least severely inefficient) school system. To read the entire blog post from Stossel (a correction he made to some stats presented on the last episode of his Fox Business program), click here.

3 Responses to DC Public School Spending

  1. The problem here is is your article trying to explain why school systems are failing, or is it trying to explain why teachers are failing students? I think it is important to distinguish. The cost to educate a child or adult in the public school system is not a function of the teacher in the classroom. That is the function of the administrators. I would like to see more data on how the $26,000 and $28,000 figures are derived.

    Washington DC school system is a very different system then the Hillsborough County School System in Florida. In Washington DC, you have a Federal District which is in reality governed by the President of the US. The rules established by the district are set forth by the US Congress. There is a Mayor in DC, but he or she is more of a figure head.

    In Hillsborough County, and in Florida for that matter,the schools are administer at a local level by each of the counties. This is not the case in every State. The macroeconomics behind how cost are derived in a public school system is quite different then the macroeconomics of a private school.

    For example, Leto Comprehensive High School in Tampa, Florida has about 6,000 students and probably 1,000 in faculty. most of the cost in the 28,000 probably go to the annual maintenance of the building. Then the salary of the faculty not including the teachers.

    A charter school does not have these things to deal with. Although, private schools do maintain their own buildings, the schedule at which they must maintain them is not the same. Also, the schools at the county level do not themselves set what their budgets are, they are dictate to by a higher authority.

    In a government school system, the money does not go directly to the schools, because government entities are not for profit entities. So they must project out into the future, what the cost must be. This process is not instant. more then likely it occurs in a 5 year cycle. Even though the county votes for funds on a yearly basis, the funds are probably not distributed directly to the agencies they fund.

    So administrators in public school are force to ask for more money then they need to account for any emergency that may occur. For many government agencies, if you ask for less funds, then your funding will be cut in the future, and it is almost impossible to increase your funding once it is gone.

    How does this relate to the teacher in terms of education?

    It doesn’t.

    The cost of educating a child in a public school does not fall on the backs of teachers. A teacher in a public school as very little input on the funding of a school system. That would be like you Adam telling Busch Gardens that the performance of my work will increase if you give me more money. No executive at Busch Gardens will ever hear you utter the words. That will get as high as your immediate supervisor and no more.

    Also, people received a quality education with quite less then is spent now.

    • Adam Fowler says:

      The Stossel blog post has a link to a Cato Institute report which has an Excel spreadsheet detailing the figures. The intent of the post was to show that private, for-profit schools often achieve better results with less money.

  2. […] and less to improving the education of students. Much has been written about failing teachers and failing schools. This change in the compensation structure had the potential for doing great good, but would it […]

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