Friday, June 25, 2010

EDUCATION - How Much is Your Child's Education Worth?

The title of this post asks the question that parents and our nations need to evaluate.

"School Is Turned Around, but Cost Gives Pause" by SAM DILLON, New York Times 6/24/2010


As recently as 2008, Locke High School here was one of the nation’s worst failing schools, and drew national attention for its hallway beatings, bathroom rapes and rooftop parties held by gangs. For every student who graduated, four others dropped out.

Now, two years after a charter school group took over, gang violence is sharply down, fewer students are dropping out, and test scores have inched upward. Newly planted olive trees in Locke’s central plaza have helped transform the school’s concrete quadrangle into a place where students congregate and do homework.

“It’s changed a lot,” said Leslie Maya, a senior. “Before, kids were ditching school, you’d see constant fights, the lunches were nasty, the garden looked disgusting. Now there’s security, the garden looks prettier, the teachers help us more.”

Locke High represents both the opportunities and challenges of the Obama administration’s $3.5 billion effort, financed largely by the economic stimulus bill, to overhaul thousands of the nation’s failing schools.

The school has become a mecca for reformers, partly because the Department of Education Web site hails it as an exemplary turnaround effort.

But progress is coming at considerable cost: an estimated $15 million over the planned four-year turnaround, largely financed by private foundations. That is more than twice the $6 million in federal turnaround money that the Department of Education has set as a cap for any single school. Skeptics say the Locke experience may be too costly to replicate.

I do not have children, but my answer is, whatever it takes. Our nation depends (politically and economically) on well educated people.

Note that the majority of funding for this project is from the private sector. So what's the problem? It's their money, not taxpayer's. Replication depends on individual schools presenting a convincing program to get private sector support, which is doable.

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