Monday, November 9, 2009

Rising Costs in K-12 Education

People like to blame the increased costs for health insurance, retirement, and administrative salaries for the current financial problems schools are experiencing, but aren't these just symptoms of what really has led to rising costs? I offer four closely related events that occurred in the 1960's as the underlying reasons for skyrocketing costs in Michigan:

1. The 1963 state constitution that expanded state government's role in local school districts.

2. The Teacher Tenure Act that was enacted shortly thereafter and made it virtually impossible to eliminate sub-standard teachers.

3. The Elementary and Secondary Education Act that brought the federal government into a new role of overseeing education.

4. Collective bargaining in public schools.

While 2 and 4 tied local school board hands when it comes to keeping costs down, 1 and 3 greatly expanded the administrative requirements in local districts. All four have driven up the cost of K-12 education and have done little to improve the quality.