'Finding' Extra Millions of Dollars
taxes just keep getting raised over and over for education. Yet it appears that
a lot of the money is being siphoned off to pay for things other than teacher
salaries and curriculum. In the days of the one-room schoolhouse, I bet 95% of
the spending went for the teacher, books, chalk and other items actually used
in the classroom, and 5% went for administration, coal for the pot-bellied
stove and everything else. What's the ratio today?
Nationally, 61.5% of the money flowing into the public
schools actually winds up covering classroom expenses, according to a national
organization, First Class Education.
It is attempting to increase that percentage with a
national push toward state laws that would mandate more in-classroom spending
and less available for non-teaching activities.
Utah-based entrepreneur Patrick Byrne is pushing "The 65%
Solution," which would require that 65% of every school district's operating
budget has to be spent on classroom instruction. Even though 65% is just a few
ticks higher than it is now, Byrne's solution would add up to $13 billion that
would suddenly be available for the nation's classrooms, without new taxes.
It figures out to 300,000 new teachers making $40,000 a
year, significant raises for existing teachers, or tons of new books and
computers and other learning aids.
The 61.5% figure is from June 2004 reports of the National
Center on Education Statistics. It's down from 61.7% the year before. Byrne's
group reports that only four states - Utah, Tennessee, New York and Maine - now
spend 65% or more of their education dollars in the classroom. Last year, there
were seven such states, the group says. In 15 states, the instructional budget
is less than 60%.
Where is the money now allocated in non-classroom areas,
where cuts would have to be made to come up with the 65%? Most popular
plant operations and maintenance
instructional support including excessive aides
teacher training and curriculum
student support such as nurses, counselors and social
out your state's level of in-classroom spending: