New Study: First Two Years of College Largely Wasted

USA Today is reporting on a study published in a book titled Academically Adrift.  The study that included twenty nine unnamed universities found that students showed little or no learning for their freshman and sophomore years.  Those who graduated did only slightly better.

With parents shelling out between #30,000 and $35,000 a year to send their little darlings off to an elite private university you would think that the institution could deliver value close to the cost.

As a hopelessly left brained engineer I insist that things make sense.  Let’s assume that the average class size in college was 20 students and the tuition was $5,000 a semester ($10,000 a year).  That would mean that the university would get $200,000 per classroom. It is difficult to calculate exact costs at the university level.  Research Professors only teach one or two classes.  Many classes are taught by graduate students (almost slave labor wages for what they do).

I would love to see a performance audit on some top public universities.  The results would be very revealing. With many professors only teaching one or two classes, they are only in the classroom for three to six hours a week and they are paid for forty hours.  It would be more reasonable if they spent twelve to fifteen hours in the classroom each week.  If they did this, and used graduate students for grading assignments where reasonable, etc. the cost of a university education would tumble quite quickly.

The study indicated that many students don’t even have twenty pages of writing assigned to them in a semester.  That is less than one page a day. More traditional majors, such as math, chemistry, biology, engineering, etc. are producing much better results.  Nontraditional fields of study (women studies, Latino studies, etc.) appear to have about as much academic value as they have in the job market.

It would seem that even our university system is in dire straights at this time.

Conclusion:  Choose your child’s university carefully.

By Paul R. Stone

Bogus Budget Based on Bona fide Bottom-line Bucks

Back in the early 1990’s, before I even thought of homeschooling, I became appalled with what I saw regarding education funding in my school district.

I live in Federal Way, Washington.  I had always believed in supporting the school.  My father was a teacher as were his four brothers, my grand mother and great grand mother. I know the value of an education.  I had always just automatically voted for any and all requests the schools had for money.

Then I did some digging.

I learned that schools were spending $5,500 per student. (That figure today is $12,500 per student).  That seemed a bit high.  Schools are exempt from property taxes and they enjoy several other benefits that should help keep costs down.

I decided to prepare a budget for a single classroom of 30 kids.  I called this:

“A Bogus Budget Based On Bona fied Bottom-line Bucks”

Let’s see, the schools get $5,500 per student and there are 30 students per class so $5,500 X 30= $165,000. So we have an operating budget of $165,000 for a class of 30 kids.

The building is paid for out of another budget. So are school lunches. So what does this $165,000 cover?

  • Teachers Salaries ($60,000 including payroll costs to the district).
  • Books (Six classes so there must be six books at a cost of $50.00 each for a $600 total per student or $18,000 per year). This of course assumes that they never reuse any books.
  • Utilities (Heat, water, lights, maybe $1,000 a month for ten months).
  • Bus Transportation.  Let’s assume $3.00 per day per student and that half of them will travel by bus.  This comes to $8,100

So far we have successfully spent $96,100 of the $165,000.  Only $68,900 to go.

To make a long story short I could not think of enough ways to spend all the money they had so I went to a school board meeting and asked for their help.  I gave them all a copy of the Bogus Budget and they just sat there staring at it.

Today they have a budget of $375,000 per classroom.  The costs have not changed significantly from what they were in the early 1990’s.  I am still wondering where all the money goes.

Sure, schools need principles, librarians and libraries, counselors, etc.  I still cannot conceive of anything that could result is a true need for $375,000 for a class of 30 kids.  Just imagine how much money could be saved if families were to homeschool.  Per Pupil costs drop from $12,500 to $1200, unless they are using A2 Curriculum in which case it can easily be accomplished for $500 a year.

With our nation facing massive deficits as far as the eye can see, isn’t it time that we stop and examine what we are doing as a nation, and how we are spending our financial resources?

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