The Boston Diaries

The ongoing saga of a programmer who doesn't live in Boston, nor does he even like Boston, but yet named his weblog/journal “The Boston Diaries.”

Go figure.

Sunday, Debtember 05, 1999

“How much for just the student?”

But I would feel a lot better about free trade if we had decent schools, and a LOT better if we had schools WORTH $8,000 per pupil per year. Give me $800,000 and 100 randomly selected kids, and I guarantee you I'd give them a better education than they are getting from the school system almost anywhere.

—Jerry Pournelle, on the state of the Educational System.

NOTE: All monetary quotes are in U. S. Dollars.

What could be done with $800,000 per year for 100 students? I've given it some thought and I do believe it can be done and still pay teachers a decent salary. It's a different model from what is currently done and I'm not sure if anyone with a vested interest in the current system will go for it (read: mostly administrators) but it might be possible.

The current problem is overcrowding—with up to 40 students per class, it is difficult to teach, much less maintain control, over the students. The best ratio, 1-to-1, is very cost prohibited, but a decent compromise, twenty students per teacher, is doable and isn't that cost prohibited.

My proposed system breaks down to each student paying $1,000 per year per class. Class size is restructed to at most 20 students. That gives at most $20,000 per class per year to teach. Give $15,000 to the teacher (I know, $15,000/year isn't enough to live on, just give me a moment) leaving $5,000 per class left over for books, materials, maintenance of the facilities (room).

Note, that is per class, which is one hour per day, five days a week for 36 weeks (the yearly schedule I grew up under). For every class a teacher teaches, she receives an additional $15,000/year, with an upper limit of 3 classes per year (for a yearly salary of $45,000/year, which I know a lot of teachers would love to recieve).

With a student taking an average of say, 5 classes per year for $5,000/year (less than the $8,000 now) that means that $3,750 goes for teachers' salaries, leaving $1,250 (per average student) to cover other costs. If a school has 1,000 students, that still leaves (remember, the teachers are already paid) $1,250,000 per year per school to run it.

With this payscale, each teacher will only be responsible for at most 60 students per year, they teach for three hours a day, leaving another five set aside for grading, preparing lessons and additional instruction for those students that may need it.

Also, make it a bit easier for those that want to teach to teach and even if they can only teach one class, they still make $15,000/year, in addition to any other job they may have.

There are still problems with the idea, but none that already don't exist.

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