The Pain of Wasting Education Dollars

From the case files of “Why Putting More Money into the Education System Doesn’t Mean Better-Educated Students”…

The Washington Times reports today on a high-ranking D.C. schools bureaucrat who is really raking in the dough:

Robert C. Rice last year earned a $124,923 salary as the school system’s assistant superintendent for standards and curriculum and acting chief academic officer, records show. When he was promoted to interim superintendent for five months last year, his salary rose to $175,000 a year.

Mr. Rice stepped down from the interim job in September, but pay documents show he is still receiving his interim salary as a “special assistant to the superintendent” — a position created for him. The newly created job makes Mr. Rice one of the highest-paid employees in the school system and in city government.

The school system last year had one special assistant to the superintendent, a position that paid $52,936 a year, according to pay documents. This year, pay documents show that the system has two special assistants to the superintendent: Joyce Matthews McNeil, who earns $64,101 a year, and Mr. Rice, who makes $175,000 a year — or $210,000 a year, including benefits.

D.C. Schools spends more per pupil by far than any of the 50 states, and the district’s students consistently rank at the bottom in achievement statistics. By now, we should all be comfortable in pointing out that K-12 public education in the United States needs to focus more on outputs than inputs – when the system cries out for more money, there’s an opportunity to step in and promote the increasingly mainstream ideas of school choice and accountability, empowering parents, and decentralizing bureaucracy.

Stories like the one today in the Times should only feed the momentum of great new innovative ideas – like that of the “65 percent solution” promoted by educational entrepreneur Patrick Byrne. He wants to start initiatives all across the nation that require 65% of public education funds be spent in the classroom.

George Will highlighted the idea in a recent column. Mike at Best Destiny has also taken a look at it. The idea is simple: instead of pouring more money down the drain, reallocate more of the resources that are already there into the area where it will have the most direct impact. Of course, such a plan is not a panacea but definitely another promising idea on the road to education reform and certainly worth consideration. If such a proposal were passed in Colorado, another $370 million a year would head into the classroom without raising taxes one dime.

Or we can create new $175,000-a-year administrative jobs, like the not-so-successful D.C. school system. You decide.


  1. says

    Your thinking almost makes sense. The statements about Washington DC schools spending lots and getting little are easy to take at face value if you consider those two factors the only ones to consider in the equation, but there is much more.

    Poverty runs deep in DC, and with poverty come single parent families, drug use, bad-peer pressure, and a host of other problems; it’s difficult to study when one’s tummy is hungry.

    The Republican rhetoric often sounds good, and is taken in by many that don’t consider the full balance of facts, but the GOP actions speak louder: they aren’t Biblically correct.

    Please read Jim Wallis’ book “God’s Politics.” Yes, he kicks the Dems pretty well, but he also points to the bad theology being put forth by our present policymakers and calls some of their use of scripture bordering on blasphemous.

    Also, it might serve you well to read the Bible with some of more progressive persuasion and consider their take on what Jesus says.

    Lastly, I put together some thoughts on my blog and invite your postings:

    Yours with Christ,

    Christian Democrat

  2. Kevin Bowden says

    About this last comment – it addresses the root issue – the utter collapse of the family in America.
    Whatever else the bravely-named “Christian Democrat” got wrong, at least he addresses the fact that academic performance is more closely correlated to the presence of the father-mother tandem in the house than any other factor – EVEN TEACHING METHOD!!!
    The 5 or 6 years in the house before grade one are the most essential – it’s where the mould is cast and the concrete is poured. School is just where the concrete is written in and hardened.
    Well, that’s enough blathering.

  3. says

    Education is not about economics and finances. That is, it shouldn’t be, and until this can be made all but absolute public education is doomed.


  1. On Education
    Mount Virtus has a fabulous and insightful post today on public education spending and where the money should really be invested…the student, what a concept.

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