Sunday, March 27, 2011

The other night, a friend of mine suggested that I read Larry Hicks' column in our local paper . Apparently Mr. Hicks had written on the topic of education and spending and how more of the latter doesn't necessarily create a better version of the former.

My friend is retired. His children are grown and long out of school, and I think he found a lot of merit in the column. I found some good points, too, along with a few that got my back up.

But I'm not here to rant and rave. I've done enough of that in the past few months as daily, someone who doesn't do what educators do suggests that there's a better/cheaper/more efficient way to do it. We've spent the last two weeks administering PSSA tests ad nauseum to prove that our kids know what they know, and I have found myself wondering on more than one occasion if the money involved in creating, shipping and scoring those tests was re-allocated to programs that actually educate children, how many tax dollars could be saved? Because, in case you don't know, we assess our kids. Regularly. And so the PSSA is, from where I sit, redundant.

But I am getting ahead of myself. My purpose here is not to complain (this time), but rather, to toss a question Mr. Hicks has raised out to you. He cites York Catholic as an example of accomplishing more for less. He acknowledges that York Catholic has the advantage of being able to hand-pick its students, and that its revenue stream is different from that of public schools.

The York Catholic Fact Sheet found on their web site lists their revenue resources as follows:
  • 66% Student Tuition
  • 21% Parish Subsidy
  • 9% Gifts and Bequests
  • 2% Student Fundraisers
  • 2% Other
(I am assuming that "other" includes the tax dollars that York Catholic parents pay their home districts which covers the cost of services such as transportation and nursing, which is provided by the home districts, and is therefore a part of their budgets.)

In the public schools, not only do we not have tuition, we have families who rent their homes and therefore pay no taxes that cover the services their children receive. We cannot turn away a child whose behavior interferes with his learning or the learning of others. We must take everyone who walks in our front doors, and because we live in a democracy, we SHOULD take everyone who walks in our front doors, regardless of whether or not they are carrying a tuition check.

Please understand: I am not trashing York Catholic. In fact, I belong to a parish that subsidizes it. My daughter has friends who attend YC, and as a practicing Catholic, I see the value of a Catholic education. My question is this: from where you sit as a parent/reader/person who stumbled across this blog by accident, how can a public school replicate this? What funding streams are we missing? How, in this economy, do we maintain the quality of education we have been able to provide without reaching into the rapidly emptying pockets of the taxpayers who fund our public schools?

I agree with Mr. Hicks on one thing. We have no choice. Push has come to shove, and something has got to give.

But let's not make it our kids.


  1. I agree, Lisa! Let's not make it our kids--our future--that pays the price. I'm sure YC is fine institution, but as far as funding goes, he's kind of comparing apples to oranges, isn't he?

  2. My sentiments exactly! I meant no disparagement toward YC, but the game rules are definitely different. Parent involvement alone makes a huge difference, and that tends to vary more widely when the parents aren't writing a tuition check.