devinhedge | Indy Week

devinhedge 
Member since May 28, 2013


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Re: “Public Schools First NC is sounding the alarm

I would challenge the statement that North Carolina ranks 48th in the nation in education. Every time I hear a statistical fact like that, the first things that come to mind are, "According to who?" and "Based on what criteria?"

In this case, it seems folks are looking to the NEA for data. Even by the NEA's own data, the assertion is still wrong. The report is here: http://www.nea.org/assets/img/content/NEA_…

The report is a work of the NEA, "the voice of education professionals." AKA, the people to most like benefit from greater spending on education. The report itself is a measure of one thing and one thing only: Government spending on education.

"The data presented in this combined report―Rankings & Estimates―provide facts about the extent to which local, state, and national governments commit resources to public education. As one might expect in a nation as diverse as the United States—with respect to economics, geography, and politics—the level of commitment to education varies on a state-by-state basis. Regardless of these variations, improvements in public education can be measured by summary statistics. Thus, NEA Research offers this report to its state and local affiliates as well as to researchers, policymakers, and the public as a tool to examine public education programs and services."

Interesting that people keep drawing a strong correlation between money spent per student and quality of education when in fact there is a weak correlation, not a strong one. (SOURCE: http://www.heritage.org/research/reports/2… )

A better measure is to look at outcomes and efficiencies. In terms of outcomes, North Carolina is above average, but still not that good. NC ranks 21st in the 17th edition of Education Week's Quality Counts report (Jan 4, 2013) Retrieved from http://www.edweek.org/ew/articles/2013/01/…

The Center for Applied Economic Research in Montana State University, Billings "Quality Rankings of Education in the Fifty States" takes an even more holistic approach to rankings. Their approach compares Teacher Quality, Education Input (spending), Education Output (test scores), Education Social Impact (a problematic score related to population average education and per capita income), and Education Efficiency (cost per student performing above average). Here North Carolina ranks 5th (above average teachers), 27th (below average spending), 25th (average achievement levels), 41st (below average social impact due to poverty levels), and 9th in overall efficiency.

So spending more money on eduction isn't necessarily the best means of achieving better education outcomes. Part of the problem lies in the fundamental basis for the definition of success in eduction outcomes. Today our primary and secondary education systems are largely based on the assumption of preparing children to become employees in an industrial society. The U.S. is no longer an industrial society, instead focused on services and applied sciences. It turns out we aren't the only country struggling to adapt our education system to deal with shifts in the nature of our economy and changes in workforce skills demanded by Globalization. See this TedTalk for more details: http://www.ted.com/talks/ken_robinson_chan…

What I would like to see is a report that breaks-down the Montana State University report by school district in North Carolina so that specific school district problems can be addressed and performance improved. But the protesters don't seem interested in that, per se. I think they would all do well to go read some Milton Friedman essays.

11 likes, 5 dislikes
Posted by devinhedge on 05/28/2013 at 3:56 PM

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