Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Education

I got into another one of those arguments with a parishioner--why the Memphis schools are so bad. I place the blame directly on those so-called Christian schools that grew up in the wake of integration. Then I made the statement that those schools mean that we spend less on the public schools than we ought to. The parishioner said that she had seen something that said that Memphis had one of the highest per pupil expenditures in the country. I declared that the statement could not be true. (Tact is not my strong suit.)

And so I looked. Memphis spends a lot per pupil, compared to the rest of Tenneessee (though a quick survey showed Nashville spends more). But, here is the surprise. Memphis spends about 2/3s the national average of all school districts. I took a look at a couple of northern states and their large districts spend much more than the national average. The school district attended (where he was the only white child in the class for three years) spends 2.5 times what Memphis does.

I looked at North Carolina and their expenditures were a smidge more than Tennessee. Durham schools seem to be the most spendy.

So, what is the connection between spending on education and the education of the population.

When I told my parishioner what I had found, she was amazed. She then asked, "well, I can't imagine how we could spend more money. Where would it come from?" My response, where we spend our money reflects what we value. (A reprise from my sermon on Sunday.)

Now, I grew up in North Carolina, in a family that valued education. When Terry Sanford was governor back in the 60s he wanted to move North Carolina to the forefront of education. California was the model for the state university system (the conservatives hit California with Prop whatever which drastically reduced spending for education in California, much to their detriment.)

Now, in my rambling: why do we not see the benefit of paying taxes so our children can be educated? Why are we so short sighted that we would rather spend our money on our toys than on our future and the future of our children?

3 comments:

Jennifer said...

Why indeed?
Good for you for engaging in such conversations. They're sooooo important. Glad you're back.

Jane said...

You are SO brilliant and feisty - you know most of us just run away from crazy conversations like these.
Education is VERY important and tehre are all kinds of international measures for education spending - societies which spend more on educations for all - which have egalitarian access to good education, tend to have higher levels of health, lower levels of violence etc Must try and find a link for you abotu it.
Anyway feel supported!

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