Thursday, July 7, 2016

The Value of Investing in our Public Schools

The long-term return per dollar of incremental State investment in education is $49.69 in additional spending throughout the economy.” 

This is a powerful statement from a recent article published by economist Ray Perryman; the complete article can be found here.  While I did not take the time (nor do I have the expertise!) to conduct a financial analysis of the impact of investing public education, I recently published a blog highlighting the conceptual need to invest in our public education system.  Mr. Perryman’s article provides the concrete data to support that premise. 

Rather than simply restate his findings, I gave some thought to what this means (or should mean) to all of us.  Clearly, a more educated society will be better able to complete in an increasingly global economy.  Whether a student chooses to go on to college or into other careers, it is critical that our public education system provide an adequate foundation for the more than 5.2 million students in Texas public schools.  And that requires investment!

In spite of a school finance system that meets the “minimum constitutional requirements” (at least according the Texas Supreme Court ruling on May 13), our schools deliver on the promise of providing a quality education for students across the state.  Certainly, there are areas where the quality of the education falls below expectations but the need is to invest in those to bring them up to expectation, not use their performance as a reason and rationale to push for dismantling of our public education system.

Our schools produce a tremendous “product” but this has to be about more than the output of the system.  In a system where there is a highly diverse set of variables that impact the ability of our students to learn, we have to be able and willing to invest to fill gaps as they are identified.  And we have to have a system where this is done as part of our overall public education culture, not simply as a response to a mandate from TEA, the courts or any other third party.

Public education and the success of the system cannot be measured simply on the basis of a narrowly defined set of results (translated … STAAR) but must look at the other factors that will impact the ability of our students to become productive and contributing members to our society.  Mr. Perryman closed his article with a statement that, “Future prosperity, both for individuals and for society, depends on education.”   But education can only succeed with continued investment and a desire on our collective parts to Make Education a Priority.

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