Thursday, June 14, 2007

Refuting the public goods argument

Yesterday's Columbus Dispatch has an excellent article that refutes the concept of a public benefit to public education. In "Better off today? Income figures say Ohioans aren't," the Dispatch details the changes in inflation-adjusted incomes by school district.

A quick perusal of the chart proves that no correlation can be established between quality of schools and changes in personal income of district residents. In fact, the typical resident of many so-called good districts is earning less today than 12 years ago. Add in increased property taxes and that typical resident is hurting indeed.

Of course, not everyone is hurting. But the typical taxpayer is being asked to support levies while reaping no financial rewards.

One additional point, no correlation exists between community support of schools and increased incomes.

None of this should be a shock as public education provides private goods to parents and students -- though inefficient and ineffective private goods -- as well as very personal goods to teachers and administrators; these individuals reaped great gains during this same period.1

Can you imagine the impact of a chart that showed teacher salary gains over the same period? Now, that would be a chart worth reviewing.

The average Dublin teacher saw a 12% increase in inflation-adjusted dollars from 1998 to 2005 -- the only years of teacher salary data available.

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