Like Bill Gates Complaining About Starbucks Prices

I thought this from

At Montgomery Blair High School in Silver Spring, parents fear cuts in
Montgomery County's proposed $2.1 billion budget will threaten the
math-science magnet program.

Schaeffer puts this in perspective:

The desperate schools of Montgomery County will need to find some way
[to] stretch the $15,246 they have to spend on each of the 137,745 students
in their schools.

This is simply hilarious.  Sometimes it is hard to compare per-pupil spending on an apples to apples basis since each grade tends to be progressively more expensive than the last (high school is more expensive than middle school which is more expensive than elementary school).  Recognize that this is only partially because the education per se is more expensive at each step -- it is more because the expectation of extra-curriculars (sports, theater, etc.) go up at each level. 

However, taking 8th grade as a mean, I can say that my 8th-grader's tuition in a for-profit private school that receives no donations or outside scholarship money is less than half $15,246.  And the education he gets is generally considered the best in the city  (though his school is lighter than some rich-suburb public school on extra-curriculars).

If you have any doubt that local media generally act as cheerleaders for increased public spending, look no further than this.  Note the newspaper quote (from the Washington Post) and then Schaeffer's context:

I have saved the most touching story for last . . .

In Loudoun County, School Board members approved a
budget 14 percent higher than last year's to accommodate an expected
3,000 new students. The county faces a projected $250 million
shortfall, and the 54,000 student system will probably have to look for
new places for savings.

My heart goes out to the Loudoun County administrators. I can't see
how anyone can be expected to educate a child with just $15,000 or to
cover a 6 percent enrollment increase with just a 14 percent increase
in the budget.


  1. Bearster:

    Just like no one eats without socialized food, and no one has clothes without socialized garments, no one would be educated without socialized education.

    Oh wait. That isn't quite right, is it?

    I know. I can't afford the cost of educating my child. You can't afford the cost of educating your child. So we all can afford the costs of education all of our children?

    Oh wait. That one doesn't work either.

  2. nicole:

    You note that your child's school is for-profit and receives no donations, and 8th grade is under $8,000. Where I live, one of the top 5 private schools (I don't know enough to pick the absolute best) costs over $28,000 for the same grade, though I'm sure it receives donations from alumni. Is this entirely due to geography (Phoenix vs. Fairfield County, CT) or is there something that makes this school more "for-profit" than a more old-fashioned private school? Does it have a religious affiliation?

    I ask because I am all about school choice, but every time I hear about how private schools spend half as much I have to laugh, because if tuition had actually been that cheap my parents wouldn't have had to send me to such a crap public school. Private schools here are uniformly as expensive as college.

  3. Jared:

    As a graduate of a Montgomery County school, this does not surprise me at all. Here are two anecdotes to give you a little flavor of MCPS:

    My government teacher, who was a proud and vocal communist, refused to admit that higher income taxes are a disincentive to work. Such was her eagerness to shout down my claims to the contrary that she spun around in her seat fast enough to throw herself to the ground. She was a sweet old lady, really, but I would have been better served trying to learn biology from a creationist than government from a communist.

    Our high school's "business manager" managed to loose somewhere between $50 and $100 thousand dollars at one point. In order to cover his tracks he attempted to appropriate the missing funds from student activities who had done their own fund-raising, independent groups like the athletic booster club who never received any school money in the first place, and finally a student-run 9-11 relief fund. When all that failed and he finally admitted the money was missing ... nobody did anything about it, and he continues to work the same post today.

    With economic and business sense like that in the ranks, they'll be wasting $20K per student in no time.

  4. Craig:

    Nicole - private school tuitions vary, and while there are likely many really expensive schools, there should also be some that are more affordable. Of course, vouchers would lead to the growth of less expensive private schools.

    Jared - It's amazing how often embezzlement happens at public schools, yet there's no accountability.