Tag: school buildings

The School Buildings Are Crumbling!!!!!!!!

From the-more-things-change-the-more-they-don’t files, I bring you alarming claims that our nation’s school buildings are crumbling and will soon crush the educational aspirations and physical bodies of children everywhere if more money is not spent, NOW.

In March of 1997, Education Week reported on the growing crisis in the condition of school facilities and inadequate spending:

The stories are familiar to school administrators: gaping holes in school roofs, crumbling walls etched with lead paint, heating systems that don’t work, and other serious structural problems that have become commonplace in many districts…

These stories certainly are familiar! Why, President Obama advanced the same tired line in his remarkably forgettable “jobs” plan of late last summer:

And there are schools throughout this country that desperately need renovating. How can we expect our kids to do their best in places that are literally falling apart? This is America. Every child deserves a great school – and we can give it to them, if we act now. The American Jobs Act will repair and modernize at least 35,000 schools. It will put people to work right now fixing roofs and windows; installing science labs and high-speed internet in classrooms all across this country.

Education Week gives voice to fears for the future in 1997:

Unless school leaders can persuade wary voters to pass bond referendums or raise local taxes, there’s often little hope of change … Some education leaders say it is getting tougher to pass bond issues when local residents, many of whom do not have school-age children, want lower taxes and are wary of how districts will manage the funds… And even if a bond passes, it rarely provides enough money to meet the needs of districts with fast-growing populations, said Carole Kennedy, the president of the National Association of Elementary School Principals.

The funny thing is, spending on school facilities increased at a rapid rate before 1997 and continued on afterward, increasing more than 150 percent in constant dollars from 1989 to 2008.

Government school lobbyists like Carole Kennedy, President Clinton, and President Obama have been successfully squeezing money out of taxpayers for decades based on false claims of crises. And not just for construction. Take a look at this video for everything you need to know about public school spending:

Public Schools Are Modern Monuments to Profligacy

It’s the hot new public-sector trend; massively expensive K-12 school buildings.

Christina Hoag of the AP writes that LA takes the prize for conspicuous public consumption with the Robert F. Kennedy Community Schools:

With an eye-popping price tag of $578 million, it will mark the inauguration of the nation’s most expensive public school ever. The K-12 complex to house 4,200 students has raised eyebrows across the country as the creme de la creme of “Taj Mahal” schools, $100 million-plus campuses boasting both architectural panache and deluxe amenities.

Gone are the days when great emperors gave expression to love and grief in spires and domes of white marble. No longer do poor parishioners and wealthy kings construct cathedrals of awe and glory.

Today, we build monuments to government schooling; vast money-pit monstrosities made of matte aluminum flashing and a bureaucrat-chic modern aesthetic.

“Districts want a showpiece for the community, a really impressive environment for learning,” says Joe Agron, editor-in-chief of American School & University, a school construction journal.

Indeed, an impressively expensive environment that is completely unrelated to student achievement. Students only need good lighting, ventilation and protection from the elements to learn. Now we have massive buildings and mini Olympic villages with aquatic centers and professional-grade sports fields. It’s no wonder LA budgeted close to $30,000 per student in 2008.

All of this overbuilding has upfront and long-term costs. Big, expensive and complicated facilities cost more to run and maintain, and the bonds that fund much of this spending leave taxpayers strapped with an increasingly heavy debt burden.

These modern Taj Mahal Schools seem to be a nation-wide phenomenon. National Center for Education Statistics data show that spending on facilities and construction has been increasing at a much faster pace than it has for classroom instruction.

From 1989 to 2008 spending on facilities acquisition and construction has increased a stunning 445% while instructional spending increased 198 percent. The number of students, meanwhile, increased just 7 percent.

Not only is government education spending out of control, much of the increase is being sunk into hugely expensive and unnecessary building projects.

We need to put more money in the hands of parents and taxpayers. We need to invest more effectively and efficiently with education tax credits.