Posts tagged ‘Manhattan Institute’

Three Reasons Why More Money Does Not Translate Into Better Education

  1.  There is absolutely no guarantee that spending more money increases service quality, especially when (as is the case with public schools) there is no competition to discipline spending and ensure that it is funneled to those aspects of the service that are actually important to customers
  2. Over the last 20-30 years, administrative staffing in public schools has grown from a small percentage of the total to about half the headcount in many public school districts, and thus likely more than half the salary budget (since administrators frequently make more than teachers)
  3. Much of the increased funding is going to retired teachers who aren't actually teaching anyone

Per-student spending on K-12 education has risen steadily over the last two decades, but student test scores, and teacher salaries, are stagnant. Why hasn’t this massive increase in investment produced better teachers and better opportunity for students? The short-answer, according to a new Manhattan Institute report by Josh McGee: State and local governments have catastrophically mismanaged their teacher pension systems. The cash infusion to K-12 has been used largely to pay for irresponsible pension promises politicians made to teachers’ unions and justified to the public with shoddy accounting. . . .

In other words, to cover benefits for retirees, states need to dig into education funds that might otherwise be used to attract and retain good teachers or buy better textbooks and build new facilities. So long as state governments are unwilling to reform the blue model pension-for-life civil service system, and so long as teachers unions continue to wield outsized influence in so many state legislatures, this pattern seems likely to continue indefinitely.

Campaigns to increase spending on schools are always popular, and understandably so: Education ought to be a great equalizing force in our society and, in theory, an efficient way to invest in the future. The problem is that in many states, new “K-12 spending” isn’t really an investment so much as a transfer payment to retired employees of the public schools who have been promised untenable lifetime pension benefits.

Integration of Immigrants

I am not big on arguing the immigration issue from an integration perspective, any more than I like to argue about who will pick the lettuce.  Free movement around the globe and the ability to take a job by mutual consent of the two parties rather than based on their country of origin should drive immigraiton policy.

I live in the state with the highest percentage of illegal immigrants, and I have never gotten my head around why this was culturally bad.  I think the Hispanic culture here brings at least as much to the table as, say, the Irish do in Boston.  So I did not find this to be surprising (from the Manhattan Institute, via Reason)

In general, the longer an immigrant lives in the United States, the
more characteristics of native citizens he or she tends to take on,
said Jacob L. Vigdor, a professor at Duke University
and author of the study. During periods of intense immigration, such as
from 1870 to 1920, or during the immigration wave that began in the
1970s, new arrivals tend to drag down the average assimilation index of
the foreign-born population as a whole.

The report found,
however, that the speed with which new arrivals take on native-born
traits has increased since the 1990s. As a result, even though the
foreign population doubled during that period, the newcomers did not
drive down the overall assimilation index of the foreign-born
population. Instead, it held relatively steady from 1990 to 2006.

is something unprecedented in U.S. history," Vigdor said. "It shows
that the nation's capacity to assimilate new immigrants is strong."