Last week The Voice for School Choice brought you the acclaimed “Top Ten Jim Rex Oxymorons List” as the first installment of our “Bureaucratic Hogwash 2008” Showcase. Today we are following up with the next installment: “The M.U.D. List.”
You would think that investing seven billion dollars in about anything would provide a significant return. We say “about anything” because it doesn’t appear to be working with South Carolina’s public education system.
Yet, without a second thought, elected officials fork out obscene amounts of money to fuel a system that fails to graduate half of the students enrolled, produces some of the lowest ACT and SAT scores in the nation and can’t teach three out of four 8th graders how to read and write proficiently.
If you’ve ever scratched your head and wondered where the billions of tax dollars sent to public education actually go, there is a one word answer for your query.
The mammoth pie of state education spending is divvied up in fat slices by bureaucrats, for other bureaucrats.
Let’s take a look at one of those slices.
According to the SC Department of Education website, each of the 85 school districts in South Carolina allots a certain amount of per pupil spending under the heading “District Management.” This includes spending categories for “superintendent,” “School Board” and another for “legal.”
How much is spent on this category so vital to student success? Depending on the district, anywhere from $36 to $360 per student. That adds up fast.
Based on how much money per student a district has diverted from actual learning to the bureaucratic sinkhole of “District Management,” we have compiled the following M.U.D. List (Most Unaccountable Districts). We only hope that the truth of this piece will pressure M.U.D. to curtail their spending orgy so we can add them to the list of W.M.D.s (Waste Minimizing Districts).
The M.U.D. List
1. Allendale School District: Just because the district has provided an “Unsatisfactory” education to its students for years running doesn’t mean they can’t spend a whopping $361 per short changed student on “District Management.” Only 5.5% percent of all the students in Allendale School District are proficient or advanced in Science.
2. McCormick School District: Coming it at a close second to Allendale, McCormick shamelessly burns up $345 per student, despite the fact that only 22.1% of students are proficient or advanced in English /Language Arts.
3. Hampton District 2: $342 per student. Considering the district’s “Unsatisfactory” ratings and 9.8% proficiency level in English/Language Arts, it seems the students are faring far worse than the “District Management.”
4. Barnwell District 19: Does having only 9.7% of the district’s students proficient in English/Language Arts justify spending $295 per pupil on administration and “legal” costs?
5. Lexington District 3: $285 per student diverted from real education needs. In a district where only 24.6% of students are proficient in English/Language Arts there has to be a better use for that money.
6. Calhoun School District: $281 in a district where only 22.2% of students are proficient or advanced in Science? Explain again how these children are supposed to be competitive in the global marketplace?
7. Hampton District 1: The only positive thing you can say about Hampton 1 spending $281 per student on bureaucracy is that at least they aren’t spending $342 like Hampton 2. Only 23.7% of students in Hampton 1 are proficient or advanced in Math. It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to calculate that the students are the ones getting ripped off.
8. Saluda County School District: Average performance, way above average spending on bureaucracy. $279 per student spent on “District Management,” yet only 26.1% percent of students in the Saluda district are proficient or advanced in Social Studies.
9. Barnwell District 29: Rated “Below Average” in 2007 with 15.4% of students in the district proficient or advanced in Social Studies. $278 per pupil seems excessive anyway, but in light of the district’s academic performance…
10. Marion District 7: Last in academics among the other M.U.D. contenders, but right up there in wasteful spending. For each of the under prepared students in the district, $271 is sent to “District Management.” Apparently having only 3.7% of students “Proficient” in Social Studies hasn’t kept the district’s management from getting more than their fair share of the money.
These are only ten of the worst offenders in this particular instance of wasteful spending. The list goes on and on.
Contrast Allendale School District’s ($361 per student) spending 3.02% of their budget on “District Management” while Greenville ($40 per student) directs only .56% to the same purpose.
There is no excuse for the unchecked and unquestioned waste that goes on in dozens of school districts around the state. It is long past time for lawmakers in South Carolina to stop talking about “transparency” and “accountability” and actually make those concepts a reality in South Carolina’s education system. Spending should not have to get out of control to remind us all that education funding is for actually educating the students who need it, not subsidizing underperforming adults.
Check back next week for another edition of our “Bureaucratic Hogwash 2008” Showcase.