It seems that 30 years ago the public education system did the trick. Now our schools are really not where they should be to ensure that America can compete globally. What happened?
The main thing that happened is the other [countries] kept improving their school systems and made them a lot better than ours. They actually manage their teachers the way we manage sports players, where if you are not delivering youâ€™re not on the team. And they are constantly studying who is doing well. They have more school days. They have a longer school day. Thatâ€™s worked for them. Our school system has largely stayed the same. The achievement levels have not really moved. The amount of money being spent on schools as a portion of the economy or any measure has gone up a lot in the last 30 yearsâ€”I mean massively. And the numbers of the people, adults being paid to the number of studentsâ€”there are twice as many adults now as there were 30 years ago. The amount, the relative salary of those people compared to the average salary, is much higher today. It was below average. Now itâ€™s above average. So there is this huge investment thatâ€™s been made, and yet achievement in the countryâ€”math, reading, and whatever you want to takeâ€”is flat. The reason other countries are ahead of us is they improved and we didnâ€™t.
You hear a lot about schools being underfunded. Is it so much the funding, or the application of that funding?
Thatâ€™s right. You compare the states that fund their schools very generously â€¦ itâ€™s been said that parts of New Jersey spend $25,000 per student per year â€¦ their performance is much worse than in Utah, which spends $6,000 per student per year. So you donâ€™t always find a correlation between an amount being spent and results. Now, I can think of lots of ways that more money would be helpful. And Iâ€™m all for spending more money on the Kâ€“12 and higher education systems, but itâ€™s not the reality of the current budget situation that youâ€™ll be getting more money for Kâ€“12. You wonâ€™t be getting more money. Itâ€™s not going to happen. Weâ€™re going to have to fight very hard to make sure we donâ€™t get less money, because the claims, medical costs, and pension costs, and just debts run up from the past are commanding more and more of both state and federal budgets.
(Continued on next page)