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Teaching: the cost of public education vs. private tutoring

Public schools are like any other government entity – they will create work to justify their continued growth. The bloat effect creates complex, redundant, and useless work that “has” to get done, because without it, the bureaucracy simply couldn’t justify existing. Every single teacher I’ve worked with spends more time on paperwork than they do actually teaching. In many states, the cost per student is over $20,000 per year – that’s about $54.80 per day, assuming that the kid is in school every day of the year. If you use the “180 teaching days per year” standard, that number goes up to $111.11 per day. Around here, most private tutors charge about $25 per hour for one-on-one private education. Given a 6 hour school day, a private tutor should charge about $150 per day, so the public schools are actually a bargain, right? Lets break it down a bit:

Students in public schools spend an estimated 60% of their time on non-instructional activities – recess, lunch, busy work, and simply waiting for something to do. In a public school, a student is one of many – between 18 and 30 – students in a classroom, and the teacher simply cannot give the one on one attention needed to maximize the use of the time. Plus, there’s all that paperwork….

So, if we take a look at the real situation, a private tutor can provide 6 hours of direct one on one education for about $150 per day. A public school teacher can provide (in a generous scenario) 50% actual teaching time = 3 hours per day and 1/18th of the direct attention (because there are at least 17 other kids in the class). This boils down to:

3 hours * (1/18) = 3/18 or .17 hours per day – about 10 minutes. Granted, there are educational activities that the teacher can manage in a group setting, so lets be generous, and throw in another hour of teaching time. That gives the student a whole hour and 10 minutes of true educational time per day.

Lets take another look at those cost numbers:

Private tutor: 6 hours of direct 1:1 teaching per day: $150.00 = 41.7 cents per minute

Public School: 70 Minutes of direct 1:1 teaching per day: $111.11 = $1.59 per minute

Granted, the public schools also act as babysitters, and for those parents that need a place to put their kids, there is some benefit, but I will stick with the model that the purpose of the schools is to teach – if you need childcare, use childcare.

So there ya go. Just another example of how government “oversight”, “involvement”, or plain old meddling drives up the cost of education. Think about what you could do with your child’s education if you could spend that $20,000 a year of teaching money however you wanted? Private tutors or Private schools, maybe home schooling. If nothing else, the ability to pick what school to send your kids to instead of having to accept whatever schools your tax dollars happen to have to go to.

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One Response

  1. Really If someday i be mom, i prefer to teach my children nonacademic at home. I always think schools waste time and energy of real creative learning. What i learnt by own was much much more than what i learnt at schools and university 🙂

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