Is there a way to create cheap private schools?
Relatively cheap, I mean?
Relatively cheap private schools middle-class parents would be willing to pay for -----
I'm asking today because I just came across this passage from an editorial by Paul Peterson while scouring the internet for more spending x scores graphs:
Universal public high school is relatively new in this country. As late as 1900, more than two-thirds of all US high-school graduates got their diploma from private schools; public schools were turning out only 62,000 graduates a year. In later decades, school districts expanded the "public option" in education; by 1960, 90 percent of high-school age students were enrolled. When something is free, people will use it.fyi: Yes, this passage comes from an editorial about the health care bill (back when the public option was still on the table), but that's not the point.
Today, though, only about 10 percent of elementary and secondary students attend a private school. Private schools now attract only two kinds of families: 1) the well-to-do, who are willing to pay the high cost of private schooling; and 2) those seeking to preserve their religious traditions.
Anything available on the cheap will drive out the more expensive -- except for those with hefty wallets or strong convictions.
Health lessons from schools
Paul E. Peterson
New York Post
The point is: the cheap drives out the expensive. I'd never heard it put so succinctly.
Public schools are fantastically expensive ($30K per pupil in my district last school year). Yes, we have special education and a zillion mandates, but from my perspective one of the main reasons public schools are fantastically expensive is that constructivism costs an arm and a leg.
If you're running a constructivist school, you have to have tiny little classes so the kids can work in groups without the decibel level breaking the sound barrier; you have to have mixed-ability classrooms because.....well, just because, which means kids move through the curriculum at a snail's pace; you have to have spiraling curricula which also means kids move through the curriculum at a snail's pace; you have to have SMART Boards and laptops and Smart Phones and lord knows what else because it's the 21st century; you have to have literacy specialists and math specialists because the failure rate with balanced literacy and fuzzy math is high; you have to have lots of parent reteaching at night and/or parent hiring of tutors because the kids aren't great at discovering and constructing knowledge.... I could go on.
I've been thinking about "cheap private schools" ever since reading about the Knowledge Schools in Sweden. It's true that, technically, a cheap private school costs more than a public school, but when you contemplate the many costs of getting a slow, fuzzy education instead of a fast, coherent education, the money you'd spend on a 'cheap private school' might start to look like a bargain.
A year ago I was talking about the issue of school spending and quality with a friend, and I said, "A good education costs less; a bad education costs more."
She pointed out that this principle is true on two levels: the school budget but also the life of the child. A bad education costs the child.
Suppose you put together a bare bones K-5 or K-8 school with the fundamentals parents want....
Could you do it?
What would it look like?