Throwing Good Money After Bad
Maryland teachers clogged the streets of Annapolis on March 11, 2019, trying to convince the legislature to throw good money after bad. They were insisting that the legislature needed to increase funding for schools in Maryland so that the schools would get better. They insisted on this position in spite of the fact that throwing money at schools has yet to improve them.
In 2002, an earlier commission, the Thornton Commission, provided a huge boost to school funding in Maryland. Yet less than 40 percent of Maryland high school graduates can read at a 10thgrade level. The gap between Hispanic and African American students and their white peers persists.
An analysis by the Maryland Public Policy Institute found that increased funding encouraged administrative bloat and higher teacher salaries. Neither of which did anything to improve instruction. The response to these findings by advocates of the latest race for more education funds, the Kirwan Commission, insist that this time there will be a new state bureaucracy that will ensure accountability. Am I confused or does this look like more administrative bloat that does not impact students.
Maryland is already spending more per student than almost every other state. In fact of the top five highest per pupil school districts in the country, two were in Maryland. Baltimore City schools come in at #4 nationally and Howard County Schools come in at #5. Baltimore City is spending $15,818 per typical student and not very many would argue the citizens are getting their money’s worth.
In the headlong rush to implement this “one chance in a century” to fix Maryland schools, we have failed to address the primary cost of an education in Maryland or any other state for that matter-it is salaries. The amount of money is finite unless taxes are dramatically raised. Giving more money to education, takes it away from other programs that may be just as necessary to the well-being of citizens. Over 80% of school money goes into salaries. Of course, there is the very high administrative bloat salaries, where it is not unusual for school administrators to make well over $100,000 a year. In fact, Maryland has some of the highest school administrative costs in the nation. Still the bulk of the salary money goes towards teachers and other non-administrative school-based staff. Until there is a system in place where quality educators are rewarded and people who are marginal in their jobs are either fired or reduced in salary, nothing will change. We will continue to throw good money after bad, resulting in more highly paid incompetent teachers. More money won’t make them better.