Thursday, September 27, 2012

Detroit Math

So, I was listening to Garage Logic which is a show all of you should listen to and Joe Soucheray (the host) kept on citing that St. Paul public schools spend $17,000 per pupil per year.  This translates into $221,000 per pupil over the course of their k-12 career, and that does not include baby-sitting mean "pre-school."

This got me thinking.

"What if we just gave the kids the $221,000 instead of educated them?  Wouldn't they be better off?  I mean, I never had $221,000 in my name in my LIFE.  But by the age of 18, you could buy a house FOR CASH and never have to pay rent again."

So I looked up the median price of a home in St. Paul.  $197,607 (though this may change of course).

It's actually CHEAPER to BUY A HOUSE in St. Paul than educate one of their precious chllllllldrnnnnnnn.  You could buy 1.1 houses per pupil instead of sending them to school.

And I think that's a great ratio to see how much we're pissing away...err..."investing" in the chllllldrnnnnnn.  "Houses Afforded Per Pupil."

Seeing this isn't terribly difficult to look up, I decided to calculate a couple other cities' "Houses Afforded Per Pupil" and see if just giving these chlllllldrnnnn their education-cash equivalent instead, wouldn't be a better investment.

Minneapolis          1.22 Houses Per Pupil
Washington DC     .65 Houses Per Pupil
Cincinnati              1.02 Houses Per Pupil
Newark                1.35 Houses Per Pupil
Kansas City          1.79 Houses Per Pupil

And let's not forget the cities where pupils could not only own their own home, but start off with a second investment property

Detroit                  2.09 Houses Per Pupil
St. Louis               2.69 Houses Per Pupil

Now what's great about this, is it puts the public schools of these cities in a real difficult position.

1.  I'll claim, right here, right now the students of these districts are poorer students.  Not in terms of wealth, but caliber.  The rate of return we'll receive from these students is not worth the investment because the majority of them don't have the quality family upbringing they need to appreciate an education or (as it was in my case) at least a parent that would FORCE you to go to school because they did know what was best for you.

2.  The quality and caliber of instruction and teachers is on par with the students.  You don't really teach in those schools.  You baby sit.  Maybe a handful of you have skills and really care about the children, but most of you can't do math and chose education to avoid any rigor or challenge in your "career."  Plus, hey, 3 months off!

3.  Since these kids really aren't getting an education from you, why don't we make their lives better and just give them a house (or again, TWO)?  That will benefit them more than your teaching/baby sitting them.

4.  HECK, forget the major city schools.  Just any school.  Again, I've never had $221,000 in my name before.  I, along with pretty much everybody else, would have been in a much better financial position if we were just given the dough AND never attended college.  Nobody would have a mortgage, unless they really wanted a nice house, in which case their LTV would still be better.  Heck, the housing crisis would end tomorrow.

Of course, I'm only being slightly disingenuous.  I know you can't have kids just running around feral from 4-18.  And without the discipline and education that comes from schooling, they will not have the ability to be responsible adults and even maintain the free house/s we working people would give them.  But we do need to wake up and realize there is something VERY wrong with the public schools when we spend SO MUCH MONEY ON ELEMENTARY EDUCATION WE COULD INSTEAD GIVE EVERY CHILD THE AMERICAN DREAM OUTRIGHT.

But let's try an idea I have instead (because I'm not the type to complain and not provide a solution).

Wouldn't it be better to just home school or outsource as much schooling as possible over the internet?  Close down these schools, privatize the development and deployment of classes with some government standards and oversight, give the kids not just the ability to have an education, but to explore whatever they'd like for free?  We'd cut down on public school expenditures by at least 80% and with NO DROP IN THE QUALITY of education (because you can only go up from here, right Detroit?)

And then with those savings buy most kids anyway a house or at least a mean down payment on one?

Wouldn't THAT be better for them?  To have the education AND a house?

Because I know I DO CARE about the children.

And I know you teachers care about the children too, right?



The Phantom said...

Captain, nice improvement in the color of the blog. I can now read without my eyes bleeding.

As to the schools, one thing will solve the whole problem: end public sector unions. That would do it all by itself.

PacRim Jim said...

There is a considerable difference between giving $200,000 as a lump sum and paying it out in depreciating dollars over 12 years.

Anonymous said...

If every student in Detroit had two houses they would turn one into a crack house and the other in to a whore house, or is that Ho house ... whatever.

This means they would all be entrepreneurs over night. They would quickly learn math out of necessity and then there would be no more poverty in Detroit.

This would do nothing for the tax base of course, but at least no unemployment and lot's of dead drug addicts.

It's win win.

Dan Hossley said...

Better yet, invest the $17,000 at 5% interest for 18 years. They walk away with $317,000 and they learn the lesson of the time value of money.

Dan Hossley said...

They crime in this statistic is $17,000 per pupil per year. 25 pupils per classroom. $425,000 per teacher per year. Average cost per teacher of $100,000 (benefits incl). Where did the other $325,000 go?

Anonymous said...

Nice idea. I am ready to close down schools, too. Make everything private. Instruction and discipline would improve drastically. And can we quit with how great ALL teachers are? For every teacher with the passion and love of teaching, there are 5 that are there for the $ and benefits, or because they can't find other employment.

Micha Elyi said...

As to the schools, one thing will solve the whole problem: end public schools.

And dump compulsory school attendance too. Seriously. Once upon a time America didn't have its present day system of mass, politician-run compulsory schooling. Yet most adults could and did read Thomas Paine's pamphlet Common Sense. They understood it too. Go get it off the web and try it out on your 21-year old college graduate. Or yourself. They could read the King James Bible and the US Constitution too. And the Federalist Papers were printed in newspapers of general circulation; the anti-federalist papers too. A few decades later, The Last of the Mohicans was a widely read novel. Go ahead and try reading it for yourself (it's better than the movie). Not easy for today's high school grads, is it?

Now contemplate this: America was built by men who had fewer years of schooling than today's children who complete the sixth grade (and I'm not including the baby-sitting schools called kindergarten, pre-K and pre-school.) What happened?

Sure, transitioning back to the system that worked before Dewey and Horace Mann swung America's schools over to the Prussian model of statist command-and-control will be painful for some. But that's just the price for having cheated reality for so long by enlisting the State to create a Lake Woebegon fantasy world.

Anonymous said...

"What if we just gave the kids the $221,000 instead of educated them? Wouldn't they be better off?"

Maybe they would, maybe they wouldn't. That would mostly depend on whether they or their parents managed to give them a functional education at home.

But the teachers, administrators, uniform makers, janitors, groundskeepers, school bus drivers, school bus manufacturers, textbook makers and so on would all be worse off.

You can argue that the current cost is too high, but don't pretend that money is being thrown to the wind.

Wouldn't it be better to just home school or outsource as much schooling as possible over the internet?

You must not be a single parent or be in a two-earner household.

give the kids not just the ability to have an education, but to explore whatever they'd like for free

As a male, you should know that every teenage boy if left to explore "whatever he likes" will spend 25 hours a day on internet porn.

DEK said...

Nice idea, though I think you would need to be coupled with a literacy requirement for voting.

Anonymous said...

Interesting but in America bayou can get both a free expensive education and government housing. A win-win for liberals. Plus free cell phone, food stamps, disability check, free health care, free lunch and breakfast in school.....

Eric S. Mueller said...

I doubt the teachers unions care at their core. How many of them would give up their benefits and pull on the public purse after you just mathematically demonstrated how futile their efforts are?

Steffen said...

Don't look now, Cap, but you've been Instalanched.

Keep up the good work.

Ecclesiastes said...

Pimp Muhammad, Cap. This has just gone on too long.

High school diplomas, college degrees, and whatever else, these things only have value because there is an independant certifying organization.

For example:
"As a campus the University of Minnesota, Duluth is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission and is a member of the North Central Association, 30 N. LaSalle Street, Suite 2400, Chicago, IL 60602-2504 (Web site: phone: 312-263-0456)." - from the catalog

Aforementioned certification authority defines a curriculum, polices its delivery, and then defines testing procedures that it will give its approval for.


If you really really have a hard on for the poor value of these degrees diplomas or whatever, then start a certification business.

You sound whiny. to the radio said...

Hey Cappy Cap,
I don't know what you know about Canada, but what you are suggesting won't work, either, because we do it already.

We, like you, have an indigenous population that we used to call Indians, then we called them Natives and Aboriginals and finally First Nations Peoples.
And they live on these things called Reserves which are very far away from anything called civilization.
And each reserve gets millions and millions of dollars every year from the federal government to pay for the things that we didn't really promise them when we conquered them and took their land.
Things like health care and housing and schools and food.

No one on the reserve owns anything because their Nations are organized as Tribes.
So, the Chief, the only First Nations Person we can Politically Correctly call a Chief, skims off fat salaries for his immediate family and throws crumbs to the other members of his Nation.

And then those who have gotten stuff for free, who have no vested interest in maintaining their houses and schools, let them fall into disrepair, if they don't burn them down first out of boredom from living in an isolated community, to such a state where conditions eventually become so appalling that the media, looking for a gotcha decide to spotlight the plight of First Nations Peoples on Reserves.

More money follows to 'correct' the problem.
Funny how they always have big screen TVs though when they have no windows in their houses.

Lather, rinse and repeat.

Giving away free money is not going to help anyone.

Anonymous said...

The point of school education is not education, but indoctrination. So your idea will not be accepted.

Sorry old chap, it would be a better world if the world did listen to you. Enjoy the decline.

Joan of Argghh! said...

Instalanche! w00t!

wagnert in atlanta said...

eyondiateyoCap'n -- You missed one possibility. Take the money from School System A and buy the house in City B. For instance, given the probable cost of K-12 education in Washington, DC, why settle for a mere 0.65 house? Take the cash, move to Detroit and buy ~ 5 houses. Instant slumlord!

Anonymous said...

Why don't we make their lives better and just give them a house?

Because it would be cheaper and just as effective to handcuff them to a radiator for 8 hours a day.

Mr. D said...

Congrats -- you got an Instalanche!

Anonymous said...

Would never happen for two key reasons.

1. Teachers are a powerfuk lobby and voting block. And like any group on the public dole will scream for more government.

2. The schools exist to teach the children wrong and brainwash them. Feral kids might actually learn to think for themselves and be a problem for the regime.

The system quite saddly isn't failing, it's a smashing success by the criteria of the ones implementing it.

Anonymous said...

Check out The Underground History
of American Education by John Taylor Gatto.

Anonymous said...

$17,000 per pupil per year. 25 pupils per classroom. $425,000 per teacher per year. Average cost per teacher of $100,000 (benefits incl). Where did the other $325,000 go?

To pay for the two administrators who never go near a classroom.

beta_plus said...

This is the best post of yours that I've read besides the Cost of Playerhood. Absolutely brilliant.

Mark said...

As a male, I used to be a teenage boy and knew lots of other teenage boys and we didn't spend most of our non-school hours on internet porn or other worthless pursuits. Most of my actual education came from reading books outside of school and I look back at school as mostly a waste of time. I'm all for abolishing public schools.

Anonymous said...

Yes! Your plan works... We can watch the next Iphone bid up to 15K and AAPL will save the economy... errr I mean stock market.

And I can retire!

Kevin said...

I liked Tom McClintock's modest proposal for education reform in California. I thought it was very illustrative of the problem.

Ralph said...

John Gotto Taylor's "The Seven Lesson Schoolteacher" and "Weapons of Mass Instruction" are also good.

I also like Edward Banfield 's observation decades ago , that education as an antidote to inner city problems made things worse. He advocated ending high school at younger ages and abolishing the minimum wage , so instead of causing trouble and getting immediate rewards, those not college bound could get the reward of pay instead. A lot of education is middle class and female dominated.

RICK said...

Several issues here. While it is one thing to do a lump sum payment versus over 12 years, if you're borrowing the money (which you'd have to do), there isn't really a huge difference - so that's not a real issue worth discussing.

What is an issue worth discussing are 2 things:
The impact on housing prices if this happened (prices would jump dramatically as all this money flooded into the market).
The issue that some parents are lousy homeschoolers.

The first I won't discuss - it's logic is self-evident.

The seconds is difficult. Homeschooling IS better, but primarily because the few people who do it are stay-at-home parents committed to their kids' well being, with considerable education and motivation. If you suddenly toss every kid into this pool, you're going to wind up sending kids home to nannies or babysitters who have no vested interest, single working moms and dads, two-income families who aren't home, etc.

It's messy and not easy to fix.

I'd suggest some other solutions, one being going back to what worked ages ago. Simplify and focus classes.

My kids are terrible at math, spelling and grammar for one reason - the system is so freaking lenient about how kids do these things. Even the extra effort I applied at home was nullified by the damn schools which undermine rigor.

We have teachers and teachers' aides in classes. Why? We have a superintendent in EVERY school in my section of NJ. We have a guy who earns $150,000 a year to do the ENGLISH CURRICULUM. That's it. The English Curriculum. Tough job? He's never in the office.

The waste is massive. We had a bond issue this year to "put new roofs on all the schools AND build a new, lighted turf field at the High School". Roofs, I can see. Sign me up.
But they had to package it together because what they really wanted was the turf field.

These are the reasons why Johnny can't read and our costs are outlandish.