9.30.2006

A Numbers Game - What will things look like later on?

NCLB will be successful. Here's why. Actually it depends a lot on the economy.

Our motto:

"We are transforming education one student a time."



It will, however take a while.
At the historic rate of one student a day, it will take 1,666 years based on a 180 day school year.

With 300,000 students, it's huge (actually 262,000.) It's overwhelming if you stop and think about it even after you take my exaggeration into account. The 1,666 was just too good to miss.

I should change the motto to something more in keeping with the numbers:

"We are transforming education three hundred students at a time." Is more realistic.

The student population in Dade, Broward, and Palm Beach has been going up like a rocket for years. School boards have historically failed to cope with the increase. Of course the general population's need for underfunding education by chopping the tax base in half in the late 1970s wasn't helpful. Neither was the senior double exemption. Now Charlie Crist wants to raise the homestead exemption if we elect him governor.

Here are our student counts:

k-5 population is 109,000 this year (2006-2007)
6-8 population is 55,955
9-12 population 72,633
Special kids ( behavior issues ) 5,000
Charters ( not broken out by grade ) 16,000

The dropout and attrition rates from year to year account for a reduction in population. The elementary count has declined from 117,000 to 109,000 so you don't see the numbers going back up in the figure above.

K-12 totals by year:
1997 223,000
2004 272,691
2006 262,616

I just took the ends and the high point to display the trend. Up, then down.

Nobody has said where the reduction is happening. However, the cost of a house is now more than $100,000 more than the average income can support. That is, if you can afford a mortgage on a 350,000 house in your home town, the same house will cost 450,000 in South Florida. An article in the South Florida Business Journal quoted a family that bought a 541 sq. ft house for 250,000 in Miami-Dade. If the population continues to decline due to reduction in the poverty level population, we are going to hit our educational objectives. Just increase taxes, raise rents, raise the average dwelling unit cost and watch education improve.

There is research on how the mix of family income corresponds to a school population's achievement on tests. In general, if you can lower the population of poverty level families to twenty percent of the school's total, you raise the school's overall achievement level without spending money on actual education. Frankly I think some busloads of poor kids going to suburban schools isn't such a bad idea. But there is another problem. Jobs.

Globalization affects the job market here too. Although large employers would like to move here, the region is too expensive. Only white collar businesses like Tyco (LOL), and biotechs can afford to locate here because of community overhead. Agriculture is being either eliminated or automated. Construction jobs moved to growth areas. Retail jobs are being sucked up by low income senior citizens. Manufacturing is just as absent here as it is in any other part of the United States except Mississippi and Alabama.

There is another regional artifact that job and income people don't take into account but Real Estate people do. Arable or buildable land in Dade, Broward, and Palm Beach is now absent for purposes of expansion. We are now redeveloping existing neighborhoods. Growth is like a wave in a way people seldom appreciate. When it hits a wall, it splashes back.

When you buy up a block, you don't buy the most expensive houses in town. The new projects are in previously low income housing neighborhoods. Condos on the railroad tracks, high rises along highways, and townhouses in minority areas.

The only slowdown you will see, and it is already happening, is the housing bust. How bad it will be and how long it will last is how long the "improvement of education" will be held back. We could of course just improve schools by improving communication and the school's ability to change rapidly to changing conditions. This wold include having more direct communication with parents, having more contact time with students, having more teachers so the contact time has appreciable quality, having a curriculum that is directed toward university and that it change quickly in response to university demands, not those of local businesses. We could fund public schools at the rate of the average decent private school (not the indecent ones) which would be in the neighborhood of twelve to fifteen thousand dollars a child. This would mean an increase on the order of 400 to 500 percent. OW!


Here's my favorite quote:

"We were planning to stay here. We had no intention of moving," said Sbuttoni, 30, a mental health worker who earns $11 an hour working the night shift at a nonprofit. Had she chosen to remain in South Florida, her salary would have gone up $2 an hour because she completed a master's degree.

A measly two bucks an hour. Talk about OW.

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