Public School Education and The NJ Budget
Between 1991–92 and 2000–01, total expenditures per student enrolled in public elementary/secondary education in the U.S. increased by 25 percent in constant 2000–01 dollars. For this the United States has the distinction of having the poorest outcome per dollar spent on education.
The average reading scale score of 4th-graders in 2003 was not significantly different from that in 1992. The annual high school drop out rate has remained unchanged for all income groups. Twenty-eight percent of students entering postsecondary education as freshmen in fall 2000 were required to take some remedial coursework.
Among 18 industrialized nations, the Paris-based Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD)., found the United States ranked dead last in the literacy of 16- to 25-year-old high school graduates who did not go on to further study. Six in 10 of the high school graduates read below a level considered minimally necessary to cope with “the complex demands of modern life.”
It hasn’t always been that way. An OECD analyst noted that 30 years ago, the United States was the “undisputed leader” in educating its people. Now, it’s the literacy laggard among developed nations.
So how does our state stack up? New Jersey ranks number 1 in terms of expenditures per student, 4th in average teacher salary and ranks 29th in student achievement. Is this a satisfactory level of performance? Not for our money and not for our children.
Prepare yourself for the state’s educators to raise the “money for the children” club as Acting Governor Codey’s budget is debated. It’s time for New Jersey’s education establishment and other associated tax receivers to take some responsibility for schools and children that don’t achieve minimal standards.
Let’s take the clubs out of their hands. Let’s turn the table. If the tax receivers’ concern is for "the children" and not themselves, then they won’t mind helping to balance the budget with salary and benefit cuts and freezes.
Should they baulk at this suggestion, then their hypocrisy should be evident to all, the money isn’t for the children, it’s for them. And don't accept the line "well they're your children" - the majority of taxpayers don't have children in school. We have all contributed our fair share, it's time for some reciprocity from the tax receivers.
In too many cases we have rewarded incompetence and mismanagement of our tax dollars for education. It’s time for some radical changes.