Thursday, December 01, 2005

Par for the course

The uber-right wing WSJ editorialists praised the recent Texas Supreme Court decision in an editorial earlier this week. It appeared in the Austin Statesman today. It's an abominable article.

First of all, they claim that "Texas spends nearly $10,000 per student." According the latest statistics (from 2003) from the state's education agency, that figure is actually less than $7,000 per student (click here, see line 67). But why concern ourselves with mere facts? They're so unnecessary.

The WSJ wrote that "the judiciary has flatly rejected the core doctrine of the education establishment that more dollars equal better classroom performance." Really? Justice Hecht, writing for the majority, stated: "Public education can and often does improve with greater resources, just as it struggles when resources are withheld." Soudn like a flat rejection to you?

I could go on at length with other distortions in the editorial but you get the idea. It's a shame that facts -- and the words of the actual decision itself -- are so irrelevant to the WSJ. They have a point of view that I, of course, disagree with, but it's hard to even consider an opposing viewpoint when the opposition uses distortions as willfully (ignorantly?) as the Journal did.

It's an awful editorial that lacks evidence to support its claims. But then, what more would you expect from the Wall Street Journal editorialists? It's par for the course for them.

5 Comments:

Blogger Malcolm Kirkpatrick said...

Of the __Wall Street Journal_ article, "Education at the Brink" writes: "First of all, they claim that "Texas spends nearly $10,000 per student." According the latest statistics (from 2003) from the state's education agency, that figure is actually less than $7,000 per student (click here, see line 67). But why concern ourselves with mere facts? They're so unnecessary."

There sre several points here. 1) There is a difference between "revenues" and "expenditures". Why this is so in a tax-exempt agency with no line in it's balance sheet for "profit", which can neither sell debt nor carry over funds is an interesting question, but there you go.
2) The NCES __Digest of Education Statistics__ gives a 2002 per-pupil expenditure for Texas over $7,000. It's probably gone up since.
3) The figures given by NCES for Hawaii do not agree with the figures which the Hawaii DOE reports on its __National Public Education Finance Survey__, which gives a considerably higher figure.

Journalists seldom cover education well, but educators often misrepresent their finances and performance accurately. Trust neither, I say.

3:00 PM  
Blogger Education at the Brink said...

Actually, Malcolm, both revenues and expenditures are under $7000 according to the TEA. And according to the NCES figures, the amount spent per pupil in 2000-01 (the most recent number they publish) is $6,655.

We can argue about numbers all day long. The fact is that the Journal distorted the facts. Badly.

3:54 PM  
Blogger Malcolm Kirkpatrick said...

I read $7,302.

http://nces.ed.gov/programs/digest/d04/tables/dt04_168.asp

The issue is: what are the facts?

Critics of State (government, generally) schools have reasons to distort. Defenders of State schools have reasons to distort.

Trust nobody.

4:08 PM  
Blogger Education at the Brink said...

I see where you got the $7300. I was getting the $6600 from this link:

http://nces.ed.gov/programs/digest/d03/tables/dt170.asp

Either way, can we agree that $10,000 is not $6,600 or $7,300? Wouldn't that -- trust or no trust -- qualify as a fact?!?

4:21 PM  
Blogger Malcolm Kirkpatrick said...

Facts? I wish I knew. Is "per pupil" Sept. enrollment or ADA? Do districts report honestly (Hawaii doesn't)? What numbers go into budget figures? Do budget figures include the value of legal advice from the State's attorneys, for example? How 'bout capital costs? I can see how revenues and expenditures might differ; a district might have to put into escrow the value of contracts let in one year and not paid 'til another. Still, how do you get results like --this--?

"In its 2004 report to the Bureau of the Census, "The National Public Education Financial Survey", the Hawaii DOE reported an average daily attendance (ADA) of 167,739 students, a total revenue of $2,137,931,111 and, by a miracle of accounting, a per pupil annual expenditure of $8,954."

Divide $2.1 billion by 183,000 (Sept enrollment), and you get more than $10,000/head. That's Hawaii, but Texas isn't that much lower, over the years, in the NCES tables.

I really don't know.

11:39 PM  

Post a Comment

<< Home

Listed on BlogShares