the Los Angeles metro area comes in third place for average real spending in our study.23 The average real per-pupil spending figure of $19,000 is a stunning 90 percent higher than the $10,000 the districts claim to spend.
Remember that if there are 20 students in a classroom and spending is $15,000 per student, then school revenues are $300,000 per year. A teacher gets paid, say, $75,000 a year, including benefits. That still leaves $225,000 in profit, which gets divided into capital expenses and overhead. Mostly overhead. You will find that if the teacher to pupil ratio is 1 to 20 in the classroom, overall the adult to pupil ratio will be more like 1 to 6. See Efficiency, Entrepreneurship, and Education, which I wrote ten years ago. See also my letter to the editor about the Montgomery County School budget.
Setting a national goal of having all students proficient by 2014 while letting states create their own tests and set their own cut scores has produced a mess.
You put these two stories together, and the result is that school districts are not transparent about what they are spending or about the results.
I have to say that I was never a fan of national testing standards. I wrote in 2003 that for those of us who want to empower parents the national standards look like part of the problem, not part of the solution. I still feel that way.
By the way, in David Brooks' tribute to Barack Obama as a courageous education reformer standing up to teachers' unions, Brooks does not mention that on Obama's watch the DC school voucher program has been essentially killed.
UPDATE: On David Brooks' column, no comment I can make could possibly top the last line of Jonah Goldberg's take.