Thursday, August 25, 2005

Getting Our Money's Worth?

Brandon Dutcher is the Vice President of Policy for the Oklahoma think tank, Oklahoma Council of Public Affairs. He frequently writes scholarly articles about public education in Oklahoma. All too often he can point out misstatements and areas that need improvement. He is a proponent of school choice as I am.

Along with Steven Anderson, he has recently published an article regarding the hidden costs of public education. Here is an excerpt from it: "Unlike private-sector businesses, the government’s school accounting systems exclude many significant costs when computing expenditures. As a result, Oklahoma government officials routinely understate the cost of public education. For example, official reports indicated the per-pupil expenditure in FY-2003 was $6,429. This study, using generally accepted accounting principles to report expenditures that would be included on a regular financial statement, finds the real cost that year was more than $11,250".

The $6,429 figure is from Governor Henry's latest executive budget for FY 2003-2004. The $11,250 figure is from the OCPA's research. You can link to the article here. I encourage you to read the article, it is well done and very informative. By the way, some of the things that are not included in the Governor's figure includes such things as; a significant discrepancy between the State number and the Federal numbers, teacher retirement payments, non-appropriated payments, building depreciation, Career Tech common education expenditures, teacher retirement debt and OSSM (Oklahoma School for Science and Mathematics).

Having been intimately involved with the finances of a charter school, I can tell you that the all in cost to educate those 250 students was about $5,000 per pupil, for everything. And TSAS has consistently ranked among the top ten high schools in Oklahoma since its inception in FY 2001-2002. This shows that more money is not the answer to our public education woes.

Interestingly, at the end of the article there is an analysis of private school tuition. It has a weighted average per pupil weighted average of $4,162.40. I wonder if this number includes the cost of the buildings, I doubt it.

Any way you look at it, in the mainstream, whether the number is $11,250 or $6,429 for our traditional public schools versus $5,000 for charter public schools and $4,162.40 for private schools, IS THE OKLAHOMA TAXPAYER GETTING THEIR MONEY'S WORTH?
How much longer will we as citizens and taxpayers of Oklahoma continue to be duped by our elected officials into thinking that we need to continually pump more money into a failing system (at least here in Tulsa). Thank goodness that we still see some public schools doing their job in rural and suburban Oklahoma.

3 comments:

Red Bug's Babe said...

How's your job search coming along?

Anonymous said...

are you always out of work?

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