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Thursday, February 24, 2011

Buying Bulk

I buy bulk.

Toilet paper? 900 rolls. Cheese? 30 pound blocks. I used to get my mustard by the barrel. But my wife told me that it wasn't worth the frustration refilling the human-sized bottles and the requisite third fridge. I still buy the jumbo-huge-extra-value-family-sized jar of pickles though. It's the little victories...

Why buy such huge quantities?

Because mustard is half the price per unit if you get sixty gallons of it instead of a single 20oz bottle. That's why.

The question then is: Why doesn't "buying bulk" work when it comes to human care?

Jessica mentioned yesterday that the cost of child care is such that she can't afford to work. And I get depressed every time I think about the real cost of public schools. What's going on here?

Buying bulk works the same way getting married helps your budget. When you're single, you and your future spouse are paying for two residences, two beds, two internet connections and you're preparing two meals, doing two loads of laundry and generally duplicating everything. Getting married slashes the cost of one of you to a third. That's big savings. Have a friend move in with you? The savings get even bigger!

So, by the same logic, if you can get one teacher to watch 30 kids, we're saving a ton of money.

But we're not.

Public middle schools cost as much as my private University tuition (which included my room and board). And the reason my private University tuition was so astronomically high was because it wasn't super large (no bulk discount) and had no Federal funding. Of course, Federal funding isn't helping classrooms anyway.

One reason we're not getting a "bulk discount" from public schools is that there isn't really anything "bulk" going on. There isn't one teacher per 30 students. There are guidance counselors, nurses, assistant principals, principals, a board of education, and so on. There are buses and playgrounds, classrooms and cafeterias, soccer fields and stadiums. And, similar to you and your spouse prior to marriage, the families of these students still have houses and kitchens, parks and playgrounds, cars and bedrooms, doctors and pastors. In many ways, we're duplicating everything (and more).

This post is not about how public schools are bad. This post is about how (and an exploration of the why) public schools are so expensive. Given what the government spends on other kids, you could buy a Sonlight Core for each of your four students and make almost six figures using them.

So the question to ponder now is: How do we get people to start homeschooling in bulk?

 ~Luke Holzmann
Filmmaker, Writer, Empty Nester


Missy said...

Ha. No thanks. I am done with the bulk homeschooling. I am on the downward slope now. :-)

Still buying Cores though.

Happy Elf Mom (Christine) said...

Well. I'm as pro-homeschooling as the next gal, but here's where you miss it. Think about kids like Woodjie. He's almost completely non-verbal and needs an aide on the bus. Special seat with straps. At school, he has a designated para with him at all times. He has speech. He is learning from a teacher specially trained in PECs and the autism spectrum. He uses the touch-talk machine$. He is in a designated class with four other non-verbal autistic children, each with their own paras. So... that's SIX staff members during the teaching day for five kids, plus the extra aides and that sort of thing.

Mind you, you save in "bulk" as a district when the district grows enough that classes like this are available rather than sending children to neighbouring counties and paying $60,000 for a year of preschool.

Honestly right now I don't think I could do a better job than these teachers, but unfortunately when he gets older, we may have other issues crop up. I hope to never choose between the safest and most loving environment and the environment where he will (quite frankly) get the best education.

So... all that to say that the data is very skewed because of children like mine. It bothers me quite a bit when people say things like well, per pupil it's $5,000 and if I just had that money I could do way better, yk? Because for some kids it's $60,000 and other kids need three books and a sheet of paper. :)

une petite etoile said...

What do we need to do to get more people homeschooling?

Sadly, nothing.

Many thousands (millions?) of people deeply rooted in the administration of 'the system' are showing their true colors right now, and all *anyone* needs to do is turn on the news to see where those individual's loyalties are.

I have a daughter who was bullied. The teacher didn't care enough to phone me or even send a note home. For months my child was shaky when we reviewed homework, shed tears over test prep and went from being bubbly and confident to a veritable wreck. Only when asked very specific questions about a couple of children during a mid-year parent-teacher meeting did the teacher admit that my daughter had been taunted 'since the first week of school' (!) by some boys who were repeating the grade and were known to target 'pretty, shy girls.'

My daughter was in the first grade.

I withdrew her from the school the next day.

For what it's worth, she is the oldest of my four children. I'm 42 and won't be having any more kids, but my own 'bulk' will be educated by their lawyer-turned-homeschooling mom and will not be touched by the Federal education system again.

I pray regularly that others garner the confidence to take matters into their own hands. The hearts, souls and minds of our country's future depends on it.

Luke Holzmann said...

Congratulations, Missy, on making it this far in your journey. The question remains: How do we encourage a larger number of families to take advantage of homeschooling?

Mrs. C, the cost of special education requirements floated through my head. But it didn't fit within my post so I mostly ignored it. But now you've got me thinking about another issue: Why don't we (I?) hear about this when people talk about school budgets? I hear about class size. I hear about extra administrators. I hear about sports and art and music... but I never hear about these great programs for children with special needs. Why? Is it that despite the huge cost per pupil it isn't a significant part of the budget? I'm really curious now. Thanks for bringing this up and adding your great insights into this situation!

Slow, I too wish more people would take advantage of homeschooling. There are so many fantastic benefits!


Happy Elf Mom (Christine) said...

I think part of it is that most school districts don't want to trot out "those" children when they want to speak of their successes. They put the "special" kids in the back room and talk about every child succeeding in their PR stuff without showing anyone exactly what it costs or really looks like.

Luke Holzmann said...

That's a great point, Mrs. C. You've got my wheels turning again... Thanks!



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Luke Holzmann
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