21 Feb 2007, Comments Off on Just throw Money

Just throw Money

Author: Helen

Education– especially public education versus private, or public education, the parlous state of– is all over the news again. How long will it be before some conservative will come out once again with the perennial classic, “well, you won’t solve the problems in public education just by throwing money at it“.

Money may be the root of all evil and all that, but unfortunately we often need it to achieve certain ends. It’s strange that in these ideologues’ world, the purchasing power of money is actually variable based on whether it’s spent by the wealthy elite or by the great unwashed. I call this new principle the purchasing-power-differential (ahem! Wow, that sounds impressive. I’ve spent too much time on Crooked Timber and Quiggin, and it’s given me Jargon Envy.)

Therefore, if I throw a lot of money at a private school by paying their astronomical fees, and the Federal government decides to give them even more money, this is not throwing money. this is totally defensible. And people such as the Associations of Independent Schools are always going into print to defend it. Oh, how they defend it.
If the money was spent fixing the public system, you see, that would be throwing money, but if it’s spent on the private system, it’s a prudent allocation of funds.

It’s all in the purchasing power differential.

Wealthy people fail consistently in applying this principle in just about every aspect of their lives. Can you imagine this conversation?

“Charles, that little beach house at Portsea is sweet, but so run down. It’s going to need a lot of rebuilding and redecorating, darling! Shall I ring the architect?”

“Nah, you know don’t solve the problem just by throwing money at it.”

“Don’t you think it’s time we updated the Beemer?”

“Darling, that would just be throwing money at the problem!”

“It’s time I paid young Phoenix’s fees for Scotch next term.”

“Look, you can’t solve Nix’s education by throwing money at it!”

“Possum, can you shove a wee bit into my credit card account this week? I need my outfits for the spring racing carnival.”

“Forget it! That’s just throwing…”

[Cross posted at Road to Surfdom]

Comments (0)

  • Jennifer says:

    You’re right. Whenever I talk about public education, and how it has less money per student, I always feel compelled to add, “not that money necessarily means a better education…”. It might not guarantee a better education, but it certainly gives you a better chance of one.

  • Helen says:

    Of course – it’s no substitute for passion and inspiration, but unfortunately the reality is that as long as the public system has teachers demoralised and on lousy salaries with lousy career paths and conditions, fewer books, fewer computers and a higher discomfort level all round, plus more students with challenging behaviours (they can’t kick ’em out)… I think the “you can’t throw money at it’ attitude has a cosy vision of a whole bunch of Sidney Poitiers who will rescue whole cohorts of public school kids on one bowl of porridge a day just for the love of it. Like some 70s movie. We exploit people who are motivated.

    Just throwing a bit of money to buy a lot of decently paid teacher’s aides, for instance, to help the disruptive and/or learning disabled kids would be a good start.

  • tigtog says:

    Yup. My son’s school has just had their budget for teachers’ aides cut by one half.

    The budget is allocated on assessed need, the need being assessed by standardised test scores. The program was successfully helping the kids perform at a higher level, their test scores approaching the average. So obviously, our student body doesn’t need those aides when the kids are performing so well.

    Total Catch-22.

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