How do we undervalue education?

If so, how come it isn’t?

John Steinbeck’s view of education.

I have come to believe that a great teacher is a great artist and that there are as few as there are any other great artists. Teaching might even be the greatest of the arts since the medium is the human mind and spirit”

Written Oct 1, 2016

We don’t undervalue education …

at least not in terms of money spent.

On average (in the US), we spend $12,296 per student (Fast Facts) in the 2012–13 school year.

The average class size in public schools is 19 (Table 7.Average class size in public primary schools, middle schools, high schools, and schools with combined grades, by classroom type and state: 2011-12)

Therefore, the average classroom generates $233,624 in revenue.

The average teacher salary in the US is $56,383 (Estimated average annual salary of teachers in public elementary and secondary schools, by state: Selected years, 1969-70 through 2012-13).

Therefore, teacher’s salaries represent approximately 24% of revenue.

Let’s assume that the cost of salaries for comparable businesses is about 50% of revenues (Education and health care fields may have salaries that are as much as 52 percent of total expenses Wages & Salaries – Human Resource Management). Therefore, if schools were run efficiently, we should be able to pay teachers an average of $110K annually.

We don’t undervalue education …

in terms of effort.

Just peruse the volumes of research papers, reports, government agencies (federal, state, county, school district), professional journals, university research departments and teaching colleges.

Examine the efforts being made by millions of students and teachers. Think about the number of hours of homework, class time, lesson plans, homework, grading of papers, etc.

But the system is broken …

We are stuck using the same educational system that has been in place for over one hundred years. Geoffrey Canada states this far better than me:

The alternative?

There are many alternatives. How about the Flipped classroom? Have students watch videos, or work online (think Kahn Academy). Use the teachers as facilitators, mentors, and tutors. (This would go a long way toward implementing Benjamin Bloom’s research results on the efficacy of one-to-one tutoring.)

How do we undervalue education?

We don’t. We just don’t do it the right way.