Question

Been a while since I blogged, or did so here at least. Might be a while again and this one’ll be quick. Reading Nick Kristof’s piece in the NYT this morning, in which he expresses support for teachers but characterizes their demands as basically unreasonable and wonders whatever will become of the children, I thought back to a much better post on the Economix blog from a day or two ago.
In that post, Catherine Rampell reports two facts that interested me:

1) The U.S. spends more money on education than other OECD countries (7.3% of GDP for us and an average of 6.2% for the other countries).

2) Teachers in the U.S. make less than their counterparts in similar countries, relative to the pay that they could receive that would fit their education level, despite working longer hours.

Rampell concludes the post by asking whether it’s worth it for teachers to choose a lower-paying profession, which is a good question.

But the one that sprung to my mind is: if we’re spending lotsa money on education (see 1) and we aren’t paying our teachers as competitively as other countries (see 2), then… where’s all that money going?

Caveat emptor

Nice feature article in the NYT during the weekend about tuition costs at both nonprofit and for-profit colleges. It’s  subject that deserves a lot more attention than it gets. This jumped out to me:

College marketing firms encourage school officials to focus on the value of the education rather than the cost. For example, an article on the cover of Enrollment Management, a newsletter aimed at college admissions officials, urged writers of admissions materials to “avoid bad words like ‘cost,’ ‘pay’ (try ‘and you get all this for…’), ‘contract’ and ‘buy’ in your piece and avoid the conflicting feelings they generate.”

Simple, direct language is the best way to help people understand something. Look at those two constructs and think about which one best helps people understand their future at college. It’s the not the marketing buzzwords. So, then, if the clearest, most concise language isn’t the language being used, the the first priority of these organizations isn’t giving potential students an honest reading of their situation. That’s revealing.

And, yes, I am aware that college is still the best route to a more financially secure future. And, no, there is no college “bubble.” This is just about the marketing, which calls to mind used car salesmen more than anything else.