First, I note that the pie chart on page xi, "Distribution of Current Spending by Function", shows 60.5% of current spending goes to instruction. This nicely shows that the "65% solution" we discussed recently is a very modest proposal, indeed.
On page xii we discover that MI spends $9,072 annually per pupil, while NY spends $12,930. This is a good start. As I wrote previously, these numbers have to be made comparable. Sometime today I hope to pop into my local McDonald's and learn the going price of a Big Mac (I will also get the price of their "value meal"). Please do the same by you.
> NY is essentially tied for the highest spending per >pupil in the US. That of course is a State value. I'm >sure that the wealthy NYC suburbs pay significantly >more.
That is certainly true. But, as I wrote earlier, while this is all good clean fun, and I definitely want to pursue this line of inquiry a little further, one essential fact remains clear: every municipality spends a large part of its wealth on its schools. Poorer communities spend less in absolute dollars, richer communities spend more, but in both cases it appears that education is the single largest budget item, by far, accounting for 30% to 60% of all expenditures. By the way, if you want to know what all that extra education money buys those rich suburban communities, consider http://www.nytimes.com/2006/11/13/nyregion/13private.html?ref=education "Leaving the City for the Schools, and Regretting It"
We, as a society, spend a ton of money on schools. You and your friends have to accept that there is no more where that came from. Either you accept that what we now have is all there is, or you will have to think of another way to organize our schools. There is no escaping the evident fact that the public schools, as they are now constituted, are a dinosaur in the sense that they are at the end of an evolutionary line. They have taken us as far as they can. They did yeoman's work in the days when being able to sign your own name was a great literary achievement, but now that we demand ever so much more from education, it is perfectly clear that the system we have cannot deliver. There has to be another way.
Quite possibly, no one yet knows what that other way is. I have my own ideas, naturally, but I would not be surprised or offended if I turn out to be wrong. What I am sure is right is that the only way we are ever going to discover the right approach is to allow experimentation.
The only approach that is certainly wrong is to insist on keeping things as they are. Every dollar we spend on the current system is (a) a vote of confidence in the current system, and (b) sucks the life out of any possible alternative (money being a scarce resource, and all). Indeed, I think that by the time a municipality spends 50% of all its revenues on its existing schools, they have effectively pre-empted all possibilities for innovation (there is simply not enough left over).
That is why I take the view exactly contrary to yours. I believe the biggest mistake we can make is to pump yet more money into the existing system. On the contrary, what we desperately need, above all else, is to make some non-trivial amount of money available to alternative efforts at organizing education.