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K-12 per pupil cost of $25,000 breaking the country’s budget

When you put the education costs per pupil in perspective not only are there big differences between states, but the public and private sectors glean unexpected results.

The Cato Institute found public schools can be 93 percent more expensive than private schools. They contend the public school districts are anything but transparent and this creative accounting lends itself to muddy decision making by citizens within a state and district.

“A sobering 27 cents of every dollar collected at the state and local level is consumed by the government K-12 education system,” the Cato study reveals.

When the country begun its budget process for the 2010 school year they were collectively short by $158 billion. Now that America is in the middle of a lingering recession school districts and parents have some serious issues to contend with- raise taxes or cut services. The news is even more depressing as the unemployment and housing prices remain stagnant leaving less funds for public schools.

The Los Angeles, California Metro K-12 schools “average real per-pupil spending of $19,000 a stunning 90 percent higher than the $10,000 the districts claim to spend. In addition, real public school spending is 127 percent higher than the estimated median private school spending of $8, 400,” Cato’s report stated. The report also claims the figure is actually around the $24,000 per pupil when you add all the real costs to operate a business – salary, operating expenses, health care, pensions and school supplies.

Another significant issue the Los Angeles Unified School District’s Robert F. Kennedy school complex has to deal with is the state-of-the-art high school was supposed to cost $309 million. However the price tag is reaching past the $578 million mark.

Sloppy management of the project has resulted in costly lawsuits as well as under-and over-payments to vendors all the while leaving the project incomplete.

In fiscal year 2008, LAUSD budgeted $29,790 per student, however on their website the district claims to spend roughly $10,000 per pupil leaving a 196 percent discrepancy.

It is this kind of untruthful accounting that has left public schools across the nation in shambles. The faulty reporting of per pupil spending doesn’t only occur in underachieving school districts, but it happens in all districts, according to the Cato Institute.

“School districts often exclude major expenses – like capital costs for new buildings or interest payments on the debt they carry – when calculating the per-student spending figure they publicize. Sometimes they even leave out pension payments and insurance benefits for teachers” according to an Orange County Register article. “This information is essential for putting our fiscal house in order.”

The Southern California paper continues, “It’s so simple as to seem trivial. To get control of a budget, you need to know how much you make, how much you spend, and what you’re spending it on. American taxpayers spend around $600 billion a year on K-12 public education. A sobering 27 cents of every tax dollar collected at the state or local level is consumed by the government-run K-12 education system, versus 8 cents for Medicaid.”

Let’s compare the public schools to their private school counterparts. A typical Los Angeles private school spends less than $8,500 and offers parents more bang for the buck. Especially since the drop out rate for the LA high schools hovers around the 50 percent mark.

However, teachers and administrators claim the diversity in the student body (Los Angeles has a very large Hispanic student body) accounts for the large portion of the failing grades for students. Other federal data points out that private school voucher programs result in lower costs in per pupil spending, while improving student achievement.

It’s about time California and other states begin to look really hard at the money they are spending on K-12 education and look for ways to tighten their belts otherwise America’s students will receive more than a failing grade.

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President Obama’s speech to school children; excerpt from White House

Tomorrow morning President Obama will address the nation’s school children. The following is an excerpt from the speech. Parents can read the following or they can follow the link directly to the White House website to catch a glimpse of what school children will hear.

Prepared Remarks of President Barack Obama
Back to School Event; Arlington, Virginia

September 8, 2009

The President: Hello everyone – how’s everybody doing today? I’m here with students at Wakefield High School in Arlington, Virginia. And we’ve got students tuning in from all across America, kindergarten through twelfth grade. I’m glad you all could join us today.
I know that for many of you, today is the first day of school. And for those of you in kindergarten, or starting middle or high school, it’s your first day in a new school, so it’s understandable if you’re a little nervous. I imagine there are some seniors out there who are feeling pretty good right now, with just one more year to go. And no matter what grade you’re in, some of you are probably wishing it were still summer, and you could’ve stayed in bed just a little longer this morning.
I know that feeling. When I was young, my family lived in Indonesia for a few years, and my mother didn’t have the money to send me where all the American kids went to school. So she decided to teach me extra lessons herself, Monday through Friday – at 4:30 in the morning.
Now I wasn’t too happy about getting up that early. A lot of times, I’d fall asleep right there at the kitchen table. But whenever I’d complain, my mother would just give me one of those looks and say, “This is no picnic for me either, buster.”
So I know some of you are still adjusting to being back at school. But I’m here today because I have something important to discuss with you. I’m here because I want to talk with you about your education and what’s expected of all of you in this new school year.
Now I’ve given a lot of speeches about education. And I’ve talked a lot about responsibility.
I’ve talked about your teachers’ responsibility for inspiring you, and pushing you to learn.
I’ve talked about your parents’ responsibility for making sure you stay on track, and get your homework done, and don’t spend every waking hour in front of the TV or with that Xbox.
I’ve talked a lot about your government’s responsibility for setting high standards, supporting teachers and principals, and turning around schools that aren’t working where students aren’t getting the opportunities they deserve.
But at the end of the day, we can have the most dedicated teachers, the most supportive parents, and the best schools in the world – and none of it will matter unless all of you fulfill your responsibilities. Unless you show up to those schools; pay attention to those teachers; listen to your parents, grandparents and other adults; and put in the hard work it takes to succeed.
And that’s what I want to focus on today: the responsibility each of you has for your education. I want to start with the responsibility you have to yourself.
Every single one of you has something you’re good at. Every single one of you has something to offer. And you have a responsibility to yourself to discover what that is. That’s the opportunity an education can provide.
Maybe you could be a good writer – maybe even good enough to write a book or articles in a newspaper – but you might not know it until you write a paper for your English class. Maybe you could be an innovator or an inventor – maybe even good enough to come up with the next iPhone or a new medicine or vaccine – but you might not know it until you do a project for your science class. Maybe you could be a mayor or a Senator or a Supreme Court Justice, but you might not know that until you join student government or the debate team.
And no matter what you want to do with your life – I guarantee that you’ll need an education to do it. You want to be a doctor, or a teacher, or a police officer? You want to be a nurse or an architect, a lawyer or a member of our military? You’re going to need a good education for every single one of those careers. You can’t drop out of school and just drop into a good job. You’ve got to work for it and train for it and learn for it.
And this isn’t just important for your own life and your own future. What you make of your education will decide nothing less than the future of this country. What you’re learning in school today will determine whether we as a nation can meet our greatest challenges in the future.
You’ll need the knowledge and problem-solving skills you learn in science and math to cure diseases like cancer and AIDS, and to develop new energy technologies and protect our environment. You’ll need the insights and critical thinking skills you gain in history and social studies to fight poverty and homelessness, crime and discrimination, and make our nation more fair and more free. You’ll need the creativity and ingenuity you develop in all your classes to build new companies that will create new jobs and boost our economy.
We need every single one of you to develop your talents, skills and intellect so you can help solve our most difficult problems. If you don’t do that – if you quit on school – you’re not just quitting on yourself, you’re quitting on your country.
Now I know it’s not always easy to do well in school. I know a lot of you have challenges in your lives right now that can make it hard to focus on your schoolwork.
I get it. I know what that’s like. My father left my family when I was two years old, and I was raised by a single mother who struggled at times to pay the bills and wasn’t always able to give us things the other kids had. There were times when I missed having a father in my life. There were times when I was lonely and felt like I didn’t fit in.
So I wasn’t always as focused as I should have been. I did some things I’m not proud of, and got in more trouble than I should have. And my life could have easily taken a turn for the worse.
But I was fortunate. I got a lot of second chances and had the opportunity to go to college, and law school, and follow my dreams. My wife, our First Lady Michelle Obama, has a similar story. Neither of her parents had gone to college, and they didn’t have much. But they worked hard, and she worked hard, so that she could go to the best schools in this country.
Some of you might not have those advantages. Maybe you don’t have adults in your life who give you the support that you need. Maybe someone in your family has lost their job, and there’s not enough money to go around. Maybe you live in a neighborhood where you don’t feel safe, or have friends who are pressuring you to do things you know aren’t right.
But at the end of the day, the circumstances of your life – what you look like, where you come from, how much money you have, what you’ve got going on at home – that’s no excuse for neglecting your homework or having a bad attitude. That’s no excuse for talking back to your teacher, or cutting class, or dropping out of school. That’s no excuse for not trying.
Where you are right now doesn’t have to determine where you’ll end up. No one’s written your destiny for you. Here in America, you write your own destiny. You make your own future.
That’s what young people like you are doing every day, all across America.
Young people like Jazmin Perez, from Roma, Texas. Jazmin didn’t speak English when she first started school. Hardly anyone in her hometown went to college, and neither of her parents had gone either. But she worked hard, earned good grades, got a scholarship to Brown University, and is now in graduate school, studying public health, on her way to being Dr. Jazmin Perez.
I’m thinking about Andoni Schultz, from Los Altos, California, who’s fought brain cancer since he was three. He’s endured all sorts of treatments and surgeries, one of which affected his memory, so it took him much longer – hundreds of extra hours – to do his schoolwork. But he never fell behind, and he’s headed to college this fall.
And then there’s Shantell Steve, from my hometown of Chicago, Illinois. Even when bouncing from foster home to foster home in the toughest neighborhoods, she managed to get a job at a local health center; start a program to keep young people out of gangs; and she’s on track to graduate high school with honors and go on to college.
Jazmin, Andoni and Shantell aren’t any different from any of you. They faced challenges in their lives just like you do. But they refused to give up. They chose to take responsibility for their education and set goals for themselves. And I expect all of you to do the same.
That’s why today, I’m calling on each of you to set your own goals for your education – and to do everything you can to meet them. Your goal can be something as simple as doing all your homework, paying attention in class, or spending time each day reading a book. Maybe you’ll decide to get involved in an extracurricular activity, or volunteer in your community. Maybe you’ll decide to stand up for kids who are being teased or bullied because of who they are or how they look, because you believe, like I do, that all kids deserve a safe environment to study and learn. Maybe you’ll decide to take better care of yourself so you can be more ready to learn. And along those lines, I hope you’ll all wash your hands a lot, and stay home from school when you don’t feel well, so we can keep people from getting the flu this fall and winter.
Whatever you resolve to do, I want you to commit to it. I want you to really work at it.
I know that sometimes, you get the sense from TV that you can be rich and successful without any hard work — that your ticket to success is through rapping or basketball or being a reality TV star, when chances are, you’re not going to be any of those things.
But the truth is, being successful is hard. You won’t love every subject you study. You won’t click with every teacher. Not every homework assignment will seem completely relevant to your life right this minute. And you won’t necessarily succeed at everything the first time you try.
That’s OK. Some of the most successful people in the world are the ones who’ve had the most failures. JK Rowling’s first Harry Potter book was rejected twelve times before it was finally published. Michael Jordan was cut from his high school basketball team, and he lost hundreds of games and missed thousands of shots during his career. But he once said, “I have failed over and over and over again in my life. And that is why I succeed.”
These people succeeded because they understand that you can’t let your failures define you – you have to let them teach you. You have to let them show you what to do differently next time. If you get in trouble, that doesn’t mean you’re a troublemaker, it means you need to try harder to behave. If you get a bad grade, that doesn’t mean you’re stupid, it just means you need to spend more time studying.
No one’s born being good at things, you become good at things through hard work. You’re not a varsity athlete the first time you play a new sport. You don’t hit every note the first time you sing a song. You’ve got to practice. It’s the same with your schoolwork. You might have to do a math problem a few times before you get it right, or read something a few times before you understand it, or do a few drafts of a paper before it’s good enough to hand in.
Don’t be afraid to ask questions. Don’t be afraid to ask for help when you need it. I do that every day. Asking for help isn’t a sign of weakness, it’s a sign of strength. It shows you have the courage to admit when you don’t know something, and to learn something new. So find an adult you trust – a parent, grandparent or teacher; a coach or counselor – and ask them to help you stay on track to meet your goals.
And even when you’re struggling, even when you’re discouraged, and you feel like other people have given up on you – don’t ever give up on yourself. Because when you give up on yourself, you give up on your country.
The story of America isn’t about people who quit when things got tough. It’s about people who kept going, who tried harder, who loved their country too much to do anything less than their best.
It’s the story of students who sat where you sit 250 years ago, and went on to wage a revolution and found this nation. Students who sat where you sit 75 years ago who overcame a Depression and won a world war; who fought for civil rights and put a man on the moon. Students who sat where you sit 20 years ago who founded Google, Twitter and Facebook and changed the way we communicate with each other.
So today, I want to ask you, what’s your contribution going to be? What problems are you going to solve? What discoveries will you make? What will a president who comes here in twenty or fifty or one hundred years say about what all of you did for this country?
Your families, your teachers, and I are doing everything we can to make sure you have the education you need to answer these questions. I’m working hard to fix up your classrooms and get you the books, equipment and computers you need to learn. But you’ve got to do your part too. So I expect you to get serious this year. I expect you to put your best effort into everything you do. I expect great things from each of you. So don’t let us down – don’t let your family or your country or yourself down. Make us all proud. I know you can do it.
Thank you, God bless you, and God bless America.

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Obama’s speech to school kids draws fire

The President’s speech to school children, for many it’s the first day, draws the ire from right and no big deal from left. Obama is quickly becoming one of the most polarizing presidents in modern history.

What concerns the folks on the right with an hour-long speech to their kids is the fact the President continues to insist that he will have a “Civilian National Security Force” as big and well-funded as the U.S. military.

What for? Who will be a part of this civilian army? Who will train this force? All questions have gone unanswered by the President.

You’re crazy, the President has better things to do than get some civilian army together. Really? This year HR1388, ‘Give Act’ was given billions of dollars to expand the National Service Corporation. And here I thought volunteers worked for free.

Most can agree that kids are not going to be able to forgo snoozing during an hour-long speech, let’s face it watching the prime-time gigs can be troublesome and we’re adults.

What makes absolutely no sense is that school children in the U.S. have fallen far behind in the global education department. Other countries outshine America especially in math and science.

If this speech is really about ‘go get them kids’ and ‘work hard at school’ than why spend all the Department of Education time and money to create a guide for teachers to follow before, during and after the speech.

Why is the President taking an hour of time that could be used to teach reading, writing and arithmetic? Why not have the President put out a 60-second Public Service Announcement (PSA)?

This is the first time an American President is speaking to school kids. Surely, the President and Department of Education could’ve spent their time and money more effectively. Perhaps figuring out why schools across the country are underperforming and what this country can do to regain our prominence at the top of the educational sector.

What do you think?

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President Obama to speak to all K-12 students via webcast on September 8

Obama youth movement takes a page from WWII history book.

Picture this; former President Bush wants to speak directly to your K – 12 children. The school is all set with internet and has TV monitors in classrooms and auditoriums. Topics the President will include are the importance of ‘persisting and doing well in school.’

The President wants teachers to prepare for the speech, by asking students to read books about the President, ask students how the President will inspire us, write down notable quotes about the President and what other historical moments students remember from the President’s speeches to the nation?

Would you be mad at President Bush? Would ABC, CBS and NBC be leading their newscasts with a story about an out-of-control President who wants to impede on the primary-education system?

What if President Bush said he wanted kids to create posters about why we should be at war and encourage kids to write letters showing support for the President and other lawmakers and write letters about what they could do to help the President? Would you drop everything and head to school and give the educators an earful?

This is exactly what is going to happen on Tuesday September 8 at noon. The only difference is President Obama will be speaking to children across the country. There really is a teacher agenda and they do have materials to focus on after the speech.

For a President whose lagging poll numbers continue downward, Rasmussen currently has the President’s approval rating at 45 percent, speaking directly to kids seems ‘fishy.’

The White House has yet to outline what the President’s speech will consist of. Is it his views on health care, environment or pro-immigration? Will they be coloring pictures that read “students for Obama?” Many teachers had students do just that during the election process.

Will the President take a page out of the Kennedy playbook, when they used an 11-year-old grandchild to say his grandpa really wanted was health care reform to pass?

Education of children is sacred in this country; public schools are no longer allowed to talk about God. Schools across the country are supposed to provide a fair and balanced curriculum to every student.

Again, how would you feel if it was President Bush getting ready to address the country’s public-school K-12 kids?

Here is a copy of what the government’s Education Department posted;

PreK?6 Menu of Classroom Activities: President Obama’s Address to Students
Across America

Produced by Teaching Ambassador Fellows, U.S. Department of Education
September 8, 2009

Before the Speech:
• Teachers can build background knowledge about the President of the United States and his speech by reading books about presidents and Barack Obama and motivate students by asking the following questions:
Who is the President of the United States?
What do you think it takes to be President?
To whom do you think the President is going to be speaking?
Why do you think he wants to speak to you?
What do you think he will say to you?
• Teachers can ask students to imagine being the President delivering a speech to all of the students in the United States. What would you tell students? What can students do to help in our schools? Teachers can chart ideas about what they would say.
• Why is it important that we listen to the President and other elected officials, like the mayor, senators, members of congress, or the governor? Why is what they say important?

During the Speech:
• As the President speaks, teachers can ask students to write down key ideas or phrases that are important or personally meaningful. Students could use a note?taking graphic organizer such as a Cluster Web, or students could record their thoughts on sticky notes. Younger children can draw pictures and write as appropriate. As students listen to the speech, they could think about the following:
What is the President trying to tell me?
What is the President asking me to do?
What new ideas and actions is the President challenging me to think about?
• Students can record important parts of the speech where the President is asking them to do something. Students might think about: What specific job is he asking me to do? Is he asking anything of anyone else? Teachers? Principals? Parents? The American people?
• Students can record any questions they have while he is speaking and then discuss them after the speech. Younger children may need to dictate their questions.

After the Speech:
• Teachers could ask students to share the ideas they recorded, exchange sticky notes or stick notes on a butcher paper poster in the classroom to discuss main ideas from the speech, i.e. citizenship, personal responsibility, civic duty.
• Students could discuss their responses to the following questions:
What do you think the President wants us to do?
Does the speech make you want to do anything?
Are we able to do what President Obama is asking of us?
What would you like to tell the President?
• Teachers could encourage students to participate in the Department of Education’s “I Am What I Learn” video contest. On September 8th the Department will invite K?12 students to submit a 2 video no longer than 2 min, explaining why education is important and how their education will help them achieve their dreams. Teachers are welcome to incorporate the same or a similar video project into an assignment. More details will be released via

Extension of the Speech: Teachers can extend learning by having students
• Create posters of their goals. Posters could be formatted in quadrants or puzzle pieces or trails marked with the labels: personal, academic, community, country. Each area could be labeled with three steps for achieving goals in those areas. It might make sense to focus on personal and academic so community and country goals come more readily.
• Write letters to themselves about what they can do to help the president. These would be collected and redistributed at an appropriate later date by the teacher to make students accountable to their goals.
• Write goals on colored index cards or precut designs to post around the classroom.
• Interview and share about their goals with one another to create a supportive community.
• Participate in School wide incentive programs or contests for students who achieve their goals.
• Write about their goals in a variety of genres, i.e. poems, songs, personal essays.
• Create artistic projects based on the themes of their goals.
• Graph student progress toward goals.

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