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Spending More on Education isn’t the Answer

The best and the brightest don't become teachers; they become engineers, innovators, entrepreneurs and leaders of the boardroom. 

The idea that children must learn inside a classroom is an antiquated notion which will fade with time as we introduce more progressive, interactive forms of learning. 

The present education system in the United States is a cautionary tale for those who presume that blindly throwing money at an institution will fix it; instead it only proves to drive up the costs of a failing enterprise. 

This has been the trend since the introduction of the Department of Education in the late 1970s, when the United States began to witness climbing costs and declining academic performance, consistent with the American household relinquishing responsibility to a faceless institutional entity. 

Education begins and continues at the household and personal levels, whereas the classroom, wherever that proves to be in the future, whether on the job or in front of professional mentors, will always be a place for refinement and testing of those practices. 

Whatever the case, genius develops in one's personal time, not merely within the confines of any so-called school. In summary, the present model must be allowed to fail, or it must be dismantled, in order for the American people to proceed toward a consensual arrangement between willing students and capable teachers who are both vetted by the market and proved to be worthy of the investment. 

And we must avoid confusing "education" with valuable learning. 

A common fallacy in the debate on education spending is that confusion between paying teachers and funding education. 

The payment of individuals who identify as teachers bears no direct correlation to, much less any causal relationship with, educational advancement. 

In the case of the failed education mechanism, why not first investigate the total character of the current organism of the public education system? 

Is it not by this mechanism that students fail to learn pragmatic skills and practices which would imminently enable their successes as laborers, employers and entrepreneurs? 

Is it not this non-adaptive mechanism which fails to augment systems, skills and applications which would further those students' achievement in this capacity, which stymies teachers' own personal attainment by tenure-based measures rather than any semblance of a merit-centered structure which might actually encourage innovative, progressive instruction instead of the complacent endurance mentality? 

In total, the drive for academic achievement, or achievement of any kind, spawns from forces beyond the mere clout of those responsible for the administration of that which is labeled education. 

The disposition of any person begins and continues within his or her household and the local customs favored within his or her immediate and most palpable and recurring spheres of influence. 

In a household which has benefited from the creative thinking of a parent who leads a tech firm as its CEO, or in a household which has rewarded athletic achievement, or in a household which has sought advantage through subsidized living, one might find offspring who have embodied the same attitudes and an identical appetite for attainment. 

In this capacity, there is merely a distinction between the measures and countenances of success. 

Whereas the CEO’s children may value tech talk and financial gain, the athlete may focus on records, trophies and sports talk, while the latter individual focuses on honing his or her attention on comprehending the networks and processes which enable sustenance or the continuation of his or her familiar standard of living.   

Beyond those largely-ignored personal and familial influences, many talking heads and boisterous protestors identify inadequate teacher salaries as a principal factor in the degradation of education in the United States. 

Nothing could be more distant from the truth, and no fallacy is any more repeated than this. 

The facts are these: high school teachers with master's degrees average $67,350 annually, while their counterparts with bachelor's degrees earn $62,050 per annum, according to the Bureau of Labor and Statistics. 

Upon normalizing these averages to account for the standard number of workdays for the average American, who works seventy-five (or forty percent) more days each year, those figures jump to $94,654 and $87,205, respectively. 

According to the National Education Association, the national average starting teacher salary is $39,249, which adjusts to an annual salary of $55,160 for a first-year teacher. 

Even the lowest starting salary for teachers in the United States is more than a modest sum: $31,000. 

Oddly enough, even this modest amount qualifies that entry-level teacher as a member of the esteemed global 1-percent. 

This means that the average teacher makes more than the median American household, roughly double the median individual income. 

After accounting for teachers' pension and insurance benefits, and other non-monetary benefits in the form of comfort, safety and job stability, this comparison becomes even more favorable toward teachers. 

Across the board, the annual salary of the average public school teacher with a master's degree is approximately $58,000.

We'll use this figure to demonstrate that it's ultimately decision-making that's responsible for the appearance of a lack of income; as already demonstrated, teachers are more than handsomely compensated through myriad forms, both monetary and non-monetary.

The median debt load for the aforementioned demographic, the one in possession of a master's degree, is $51,000. 

On the budgetary end, after accounting for monthly rent and utilities, $900, monthly expenses for food, transportation and insurance, $800, and monthly miscellaneous expenses, $100, the average teacher with a master's degree would possess a net post-tax remainder that is more than adequate to attribute $800/month toward repayment of debt and an additional $1,000 per month toward savings and investments. 

What's more, through this repayment and savings schedule, that teacher will have paid off his or her debt over six years, and that pool of savings will have grown to no less than $72,151 over that same period. 

This, then, would hardly portray the life of an individual who lives "paycheck to paycheck," the popular refrain among the choir of protestors who champion this fallacious cause. 

Of course, many teachers elect to prolong these repayments instead of rushing to reconcile them, so their debt loads accrue increasingly higher interest, which indicates merely their specific time values on that money; they may even alternatively decide to spend their money on vacations, entertainment, new automobiles, designer clothes and other consumer goods they don't really need — which ultimately become far more expensive than they originally realized, when accounting for the interest they could have reasonably avoided, or the dividends they could have happily enjoyed, if they had promptly paid down their debts, or generously bolstered their savings, instead. 

However, it is, then, evincibly apparent that individuals have made their own respective decisions to imperil their own futures, insofar as the original claim retains merit, and as free persons they are free to make mistakes, and we cannot control for this behavior without undermining their freedom to do so.

Objectively speaking, the market-specific problem here is that teachers' salaries and roles are unaccountable to the discretion of their financiers; that their marginal productivity is incommensurate with any semblance of discernible value; that their curricula are always obsolete and inconsistent with, and insensitive to, dynamic market demands. 

Market value is determined not by actors' hard work, nor is it supported by their toil, a conclusion thoroughly illustrated by the subjective theory of value (STV), the concept which generations ago wholly dismissed the antiquated labor theory of value (LTV). 

Instead, market value is determined by the intelligent designs of their work as matched with the global marketplace of other producers, wherein a perceived mutual advantage is struck. 

Ultimately, teachers' compensatory packages are collectively determined imprecisely, routinely resulting in the funding of programs and teachers whose curricula bear hardly any market value, and whose offerings would surely merit few investments if left open to the voluntary exchange markets, where values and preferences are determined freely, regularly and voluntarily, not by a select few, over designated time horizons, or by the unyielding inertia of institutional complacency.

Indeed, the perennial protests around this subject merely show how many teachers have such superficial perspective on how well they are paid and how much is spent on education. 

In fact, the whole Western world has ridden a wave of delusional overvaluation and unsustainable malinvestment, and the education sector is at the forefront of that transformation. 

Oddly enough, anyone who earns at least $32,000 per year qualifies for the global 1-percent, meaning that roughly every professional educator in the United States is an esteemed member of that club. 

Don't expect the average educator to teach this concept, however, as he or she is highly unlikely to even acknowledge or comprehend it. 

Moreover, the perennial strikes are demonstrably far less connected with the well-being of students or the quality of education, as they are completely hinged to self-interest and greed. 

Of course, there is nothing patently wrong with the pursuit of self-interest, yet there is an apparent incongruity between this obvious truth and the way these rallies are being branded.

For good measure, professional educators tend to operate under the impression that they are the only ones who work off the clock. 

On the contrary, most entrepreneurs, businessmen, investors, athletes, and truly all motivated professionals, invest tremendous and unquantified sums of time, energy and funds for unknown, or even negative, returns for protracted periods of time. 

The way to reform this space, and to expose educators to the merits of their value-adding instruction, is to privatize the industry to enable a more transparent and more closely aligned relationship between the principals and agents involved within the transaction: parents, students and educators. 

Ultimately, the resolution is to abolish the deadweight of the state, the unions, the expensive administrations, and the seniority-based pay scales which prove only to increase the costs of education while dragging on quality.

But don’t expect this to happen anytime soon, as the tired and perennial platitudes will only continue, time and again, to conflict with the empirical data and a reasoned examination of the history of education in the United States. 

This problem is not one of money, as is often claimed to be the case, but rather one of the dissolution of the family and household unit, the disintegration of the ethics of personal and familial investment in learning. 

Education does not happen strictly within the brick-and-mortar confines of any institution, but rather within the routines and regimens of the individual on his or her own time, of his or her own volition, following his or her own defined aspirations. 

The data indicate a massive shift in the composition of the average family and household across this nation, where youths are far more likely than ever to grow up with a single parent. 

This trend can be traced back to the 1960s, when the so-called “war on poverty” and the ennobled Great Society epoch began to incentivize and tacitly insure fragmented households, incidentally yielding higher incidence of children who have become vastly more ill-equipped to manage the demands of personal, educational and professional life. 

What’s more, those individuals are disproportionately more likely to struggle in school, with the law, and with psychological impediments. 

Beyond the household front, educators across the nation are chiefly rated monetarily against a seniority-based pay scale, which rewards professionals for stamina, not for performance or the quality of their productivity. 

What’s more, the financiers have been effectively shielded from their perceived investment, as the costs are collectivized and the investors bear little influence in the process, as most households are prohibited from exercising discretion in determining where they prefer to send their child to learn. 

As it turns out, the collectivized mechanism of funding has yielded a commensurate and virtually indistinguishable quality of education. 

While the United States has indeed dramatically increased its expenditures within the domain of education, and while high school graduation rates have climbed along with rates of college attendance, the average scores of American students have fallen far short of number one in the categories of math and science. 

In fact, the United States ranks 25th in science, six-tenths of a percent above the OECD average, and a mind-numbing 40th in mathematics, a full 4 percent below the OECD average. 

It appears, then, that while no child has been left behind, a political fixture of former POTUS George W. Bush's infamous presidential platform, every child has been doomed to mediocrity or worse. 

Meanwhile, the average educator appears fully intent on adding only further weight to the anchors weighing them down.


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