Some scary numbers about U.S. education

March 4, 2011

Some devastating factoids on U.S. education from the good folks over at Reason (I have gleaned some numbers from an article well worth reading in whole):

1. According to Department of Education statistics, in 2007-2008 (the latest year available), full-time public school teachers across the country made an average of $53,230 in “total school-year and summer earned income.” That compares favorably to the $39,690 that private school teachers pulled down.

2. According to EducationNext, government employer contribute the equivalent of 14.6 percent of salary to retirement benefits for public school teachers. That compares to 10.4 for private-sector professionals.

3. In 1960-61, public schools spent $2,769 per student, a figure that now totals over $10,000 in real, inflation-adjusted dollars.

4. In 1960, the student-teacher ratio in public schools was 25.8; it’s now at a historic low of 15.

5. In 2007, the percentage of parents with children in assigned public schools who were “very satisfied” with the institution was 52 percent. For parents whose children attended public schools of choice, that figure rose to 62 percent. Parents sending their children to private schools, whether religious or non-sectarian, were “very satisfied” 79 percent of the time.

6.  Despite all the extra resources devoted to public school teachers and students, student achievement has been absolutely flat over the past 40 years.

None of this should be surprising given the lack of productivity and efficiency inherent in government monopolies. As the New America Foundation notes:

The U.S. ranked 68th (out of 139 countries) in terms of wastefulness of government spending in the 2010-11 World Economic Forum report on global competitiveness. Experts put our public-sector productivity about 10 years behind that of the rest of our workforce. If public workers could halve that gap, the annual savings would ring in at $100 billion to $300 billion, according to a new study by the McKinsey Global Institute. That would mean the equivalent of a recurring stimulus package every three to eight years.

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