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Education Funding and the Country’s Priorities

Jeff Campbell

Posted on April 8, 2018 07:20

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Quality education is arguably one of the single most important factors in our children’s chances for success in life. It makes one wonder if the current teacher walk-outs are transforming into a new movement.

The importance of education is almost universally accepted. Nelson Mandela said “Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world.”

Benjamin Franklin focused on one aspect of education when he said that “An investment in knowledge pays the best interest.” The key word he used was “investment.” Investing in our education systems will reap rewards in the future, of children growing to become successful and contributing members of society.

Often, the importance of investing in our education systems can get lost in translation. It is further complicated by the fact that investment does not always translate directly into improvements in learning. Multiple studies, including one by the CATO Institute, have found that decades of school spending increases have not translated to overall increases in student performance.   

In our current all or nothing world, it is hard to have rational conversations that lead to effective solutions. I am sure that more effective use of education spending is key, but so is treating our education system and its teachers with the priority they deserve.

I find it interesting that the average public-school teacher makes about $55,000. By contrast, the average income for players in professional sports is in the millions. I’m not suggesting that teachers should be paid the same, I'm simply making an observation about our society’s priorities.

Enter the teacher walk-outs that have started in multiple states where education spending has been on the back-burner for decades in some cases.

It started with West Virginia where teachers ranked 48th in the country for pay. The governor acknowledged that their teachers were underpaid while signing into law minuscule raises spread over several years.

In most cases, that amounted to under $1,000 per year, but, at the same time, their insurance costs were increasing. Reportedly, many teachers rely on federal assistance to get by. The teachers remained unmoved. Finally, after a new tentative deal was reached which included a 5% pay raise, the teachers returned to the classrooms.

That was followed by walk-outs in Kentucky and Oklahoma. Oklahoma ranks 47th in per student expenditures among the 50 states. Their walk-outs come after recent pay raises and general funding increases were signed into law by Governor Mary Fallin.

The teachers say that these increases are not enough, as they need text books that are not falling apart, desks that are not broken and basic supplies, that they cannot afford to buy on their own. In Kentucky, teachers were upset over legislation to alter the structure of pensions for future teachers.

There are now talks of teachers in other states following the leads of West Virginia, Kentucky, and Oklahoma. So, maybe we have a new movement on our hands to make our children’s education a higher priority. I just hope we do so in a collaborative effort with respectful communication and effective leadership to make progress, not score political points. Our children and their futures are depending on us.

Jeff Campbell

Posted on April 8, 2018 07:20

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Source: RT

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