Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Investing in the Future is Investing in Education

I was caught by an article at the Texas Tribune that in the latest national rankings of high schools, Texas high schools ranked near the top in a state-by-state comparison. Now this runs counter-intuitive. It is common knowledge that Texas ranks 44th out of 50 in quality and quantity of education nationwide. Where does it get off having 38 campuses in Newsweek’s Top 500 High Schools?

Well for one thing, most of these schools in Texas are academies. You have to apply and be accepted into these schools. That skews the student population a little.

But for another, you have to look at sheer numbers. Texas is the 2nd most populous state in the nation behind California. California had 53 schools on that top 500 list. So while Texas ranks 44th in the nation for education, it gets 38 schools on that list by sheer brute force of population.

So this led me to thinking about other populous states and how they did in the Newsweek rankings. New York, 3rd most populous had 63 schools on the list. Florida, the 4th most populous, had 43 on the list.

OK, so crunching some numbers, Texas and California have roughly 660 thousand and 700 thousand people in their states for every school on the list. New York and Florida have, respectively, 300 thousand and 440 thousand people per school that made the list.

So it looks like California and Texas made the list with so many schools because of sheer numbers, but for New York and Florida it was obviously something else.

Gee, I wonder what it is, this thing that gets more schools on the list than their more populous rivals? Could it be . . . money? Yes, no surprise there.

California with the greatest number of people per campus spends $8,452 per student.
Texas with the next highest number of people per campus spends $9,227 per student.
Florida, with the third highest number of people per campus spends $9,804 per student.
New York, the most efficient in terms of number of people per campus spends $18,126 per student.

In education, you get what you pay for. Education is not a budget item to get slashes in funding, education is an investment in the future. Education is not free.

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