Published in the Bernardo News, 1994
ALAN POLK HEMPHILL
Warren Brookes, economic columnist of the Detroit News, is the premier economics columnist, in my opinion and in the opinion of many other writers. (Don Bauder may well be the best financial columnist in the nation, and San Diego is lucky to have him.)
Brookes has recently broken the story of a special issue of Educational Researcher magazine, scheduled to be published in May. In that issue, education economist Dr. Eric Hanushek of the University of Rochester introduces some interesting information on the effect of spending and class size on the quality of education. Brookes says that Hanushek has been doing the seminal work on the subject for years, and his latest paper will be included in the special May issue.
Surprise, surprise. There is virtually no correlation between spending, and class size, and student performance. This time, it is not Hanushek's opinion alone. His paper is an analysis of some 675 previously published scholarly studies.
Brookes reports that Hanushek's study indicates that of 65 direct studies on the subject of spending and student performance, only 20% showed any significant positive correlation. Of 152 studies specific to the subject of students to teacher ratio, only 9.2% indicated a "positive" correlation, while 8.6% showed a "negative" correlation. Without seeing all the data, those numbers indicate that about 80% showed no correlation and the other 20% are about evenly split.
Brookes reports in his column (which unfortunately is not carried in any local newspapers) that Hanushek further reports little positive correlation between student performance and teachers salaries (16%), teacher education (7%), or good facilities (9%).
In a chart provided by Brookes in his nationally syndicated column, the highest positive correlation (28.5%) is teacher experience. There have been 140 studies on that subject, and even in those, 64.4% of those studies showed there was no impact even of teacher experience. In fact, teacher experience is second only to teacher pupil ratio for negative impact.
In looking at the list of studies, I could find no single thing that has proven positive influence on student performance, and many of the old nostrums provide significant negative impact.
I will look forward to the publishing of the total study to see if there is anything that supports all the education administration and union baloney about more money, more teachers salaries, fewer students in the classroom syndrome. Early indications are that there will not be any support for those positions.
The Bush administration is failing in its "education" program. Bush appointed an Education Secretary, Lauro Cavazos, who is more accommodating to the liberals than even the rest of the accommodating administration appointments. Mr. Cavazos is interested in going along to get along. Just like the President himself, there is no fire in his belly. This does not bode well for education in America. In fact, only his predecessor, William Bennett, is a mover in this administration.
If we want education back on the front page and on the front burner, we need to send Cavazos back to the university he came from in Texas, and put Bennett back in the office where he belongs.
Bennett would read the Hanushek report.
Published in the Bernardo News
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