Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Public Schools: Where You Don't Get What You Pay For

What does it cost you per year to educate your child?

I probably spend less than $100 a year to homeschool dd16 and ds14, but that's because they're my second pair of homeschooled teens and I'm reusing the books I used with the first two. Nevertheless, I don't think I ever spent more than $1000 a year to homeschool the older two, and we only hit that high number during the few years we used a satellite school.

But I'm guessing even the wealthiest homeschoolers, the ones who keep their credit card right next to their Rainbow Resource catalog just in case they get the urge to order something new, don't spend more than $2,000 per child per year. (Note: I'm only counting money spent on education, not on a roof over the child's head. The mortgage payment and utility bills would be due whether or not you homeschool. Maybe that makes what's coming two paragraphs from now an unfair comparison, but bear with me.)

Unless you've been living in a cave, you've probably heard that homeschoolers are outperforming public school kids by quite a margin. So will someone please tell me exactly what kind of superstudent you produce when you spend $64,000 a year educating one? And no, my zero key is not stuck. That's $64,000, which is what the richest school districts in New York state spend per student per year! And before you start feeling sorry for the kids in the poorest New York school districts, be aware that those districts spend about $10,600 per student per year.

Now compare that $10-64,000 per student to what you spend to homeschool your child over the course of a year. True, I told you not to include your house in your total, while the public school total includes infrastructure. But obviously, whether a New York student attends school in a decrepit building or one worthy of Architectural Digest (which is what I'm guessing the $64,000 school districts must have), the simple fact is that you can throw money at public schools year after year and the students still don't do as well as homeschooled kids.


Cheryl said...

Tag . . . you're it! (Check out my blog if you want to play!)

Barb the Evil Genius said...

For $64,000, you could practically hire a private tutor for each child. Then you might come close to approximating homeschool results.

Rebecca said...

I bet everyone else would enjoy the tax break as well! I wonder at that price, how many non-parenting taxpayers does it take to educate one child?

Ahermitt said...

I spend a little bit more than $2000 per child, but oh the fun I could have with $64,000. ps. I linked to your post.

LivingByLearning said...

You are so right! You don't get what you pay for, especially the brightest students. Very few schools, even the ones spending $64K annually per child,offer full-time gifted & talented programs. I live in NY, and this year (after 6 years of trying to work with the public school system)I've had to put one child in private school and I'm homeschooling the other. Now, I pay $10K for school tax and $13K for private school annually.

Homeschool is the only bargain!

okaram said...

I think your point is valid, but your comparison is biased. you are not counting the school facilities (equivalent to the roof over your kids's head), plus *your time*; how much time do you spend homeschooling your kids ?

And then of course you get necessary and unnecessary bureaucracy, and just plain waste :)

abelaire said...

Yeah, if you counted some sort of salary (the money you could make if you weren't home educating), your costs would go up. But that would be the same amount whether you schooled one child or six, so a per-child cost would still be pretty low. Homeschooling is an amazing bargain! My budget is $100 per month and that includes swim lessons at the Y, etc.

Barbara Frank said...

Cheryl, I believe I did that one, right?

Barb the EG, I suppose it depends on how many children you have, but yes, I think $64K could buy a lot of personal one-to-one tutoring.

Rebecca, since more people than ever have chosen not to have children, I'm guessing there are quite a few of them out there picking up that tab.

Ahermitt, thanks for the link. I'm with you...what fun to have that kind of budget!

Livingbylearning, welcome to the homeschooling adventure!

Okaram, you're right, and I admitted in the post that my comparison is not completely fair. And yes, 20 years of homeschooling has resulted in a hefty opportunity cost (my lost income for those years). OTOH, the dropout rate around here is 0%. :)

Abelaire, it sounds like you've figured out how to keep the costs down while providing quality for your kids. It's not that hard, is it?

Thanks, everyone, for stopping by and commenting!