In a story about a proposal by NC Republicans to give a $2,500 tax credit to families who pay to educate their children at private schools there's a very interesting figure: $54,000. That's the amount they say that North Carolina spends on each student in public schools each year. That's an incredible number when you think about it and it leads me to ask a few questions of my own:
- If the Summit School can educate kids for $16,000 in tuition a year why does it take almost triple that to educate public school children? Before you start hollering about lunch programs and the like, let me say that I can understand why it has to be more expensive in general to compensate for the mandate of educating all children, no matter their economic, emotional or intellectual status, but does it really have to be three times more expensive?
- Why wouldn't you give a $2,500 tax credit to any family that takes their kids off the public rolls? They are literally saving you $50,000 if they send their kids to a private school or if they home school. One answer might be that the cost per child will go up because you're shrinking the pool of children, but I think that only highlights the inherent inefficiency of the system.
- I wrote a bit about the Winston-Salem Forsyth County Schools' budgeting last fall when I was befuddled by their textbook purchasing procedures. At the time I was hoping to dig into the school budget so I could see how exactly funds are allocated, but I just haven't had the time to do it. I'd still love to see how the school system spends its money, and after seeing the $54,000 figure I'd really like to know where it all goes.
I have to believe that there's a better, more efficient way to get our kids educated.