What we are doing to our kids' education
So, I’m not the overtly political type. In fact, my wife often gets frustrated because I voice views that sit both sides of the party fence and in her opinion I should be neatly standing within the confines of a single political party. From this stance, you can consider me a lost ‘pigeon’ looking for a ‘hole’ (between you and me, i have no desire to find one). Now that we’ve got that out the way, I can begin.
Reading an article this morning about how school districts are increasingly looking at moving to a four day school week to save money was incredibly disturbing to me. Doesn’t this set alarm bells ringing with you? OK, some argue that time is made up by lengthening the school day to compensate but this is not the point. The point is that bit by bit we are eroding our kids’ future by continually chipping away at what we invest in them. We shouldn’t be coming up with justification as to why it’s OK to reduce their education, we should be engaged in conversation about how we are spending more on their futures. I view many things in life like running a business and this is no different. We are disinvesting in an asset – our kids – at a time when we should be investing. In corporate speak, we are laying kids off, making them redundant; we are downsizing their future.
Let’s give some context to this situation. This is where i want to avoid being political and keep things to an economic debate. I’m not trying to have a discussion about whether we should or shouldn’t have gone to war in Iraq, I’ll leave that to others. I’m using Iraq as data point. So, let’s lay out the facts.
The government has just committed to plow $4 billion into education to help fix things. Given there are about 50 million school kids in the U.S., that equates to an investment of $87 per child. Now for a comparison: The total amount spent and committed to the Iraq war so far is $900 billion. If that money had been directed into education instead, it would equate to an investment of $18,000 per child.
Some other tidbits…
- Amount of spend per child on U.S. kids from Obama’s new education initiative is $87 ($4bn / 50m = $87 )
- Amount of spend per child on U.S. kids if the all the Iraq war spend had been directed to education is $1,800 ($900bn / 50m = $1,800)
- 10 billion is the number of kids that could be educated if we took the Iraq money and spent $87 on each of these kids ( i.e. it assumes the same level of additional investment currently being made by the government on U.S. kids).
- Given there are only 560m school age kids in the world*, we could reach FIVE planet earth’s with the Iraq money ($900bn / $87 = 10bn kids)
- $1,607 is the the amount that could be spent on EVERY school kid in the world if the Iraq budget had been redirected into education ($900bn / 250m school kids in the world = $1,607)*
- The annual total amount spent on U.S. school education is $500bn, so the Iraq money could have educated the entire country for 2 years.
- The total annual education spend on the 29 top countries in the world is $1.1 trillion. The Iraq money would have educated the entire world for nearly a year (and this excludes virtually all the 3rd world countries).
So, we can preface all these facts and figures with the disclaimer that I am no statistician but they do give an order of magnitude. And yes, this may be info overload, but if you look at all this like a business the ROI in educational terms is dire and the sooner we get our priorities right the better.
*There are 2.2bn children in the world. Remove 28% (ages 1-5), gives the number school age kids in the world = 560m (yes, rough figs).