Education.com is a very useful website. I just looked up on the site some information on the one and only middle school in my hometown of Wellesley, Massachusetts, the home of the women’s college Hillary Clinton went to. Eighty-two percent of Wellesley middle school students are white and another 7 percent are Asian. Only 3 percent of the students are eligible for any version of the free lunch program.
I discovered that Wellesley spends no less than $15,383 per pupil, more than $2,000 more than the national average.
It has much too big a middle school, as it enrolls more than 1,000 students in grades 6 through 8. That means there is something close to 325 wild-eyed youngsters in each and every grade. Whew!
But the middle school has the equivalent of 1 full time teacher for every 12 students– pretty good even by Harvard standards.
Over 90 percent of the 8th graders were deemed proficient in reading by the State of Massachusetts, but only 77 percent were said to be proficient in math, and just 44 percent in science.
What is this rich school doing with all of its money? Can’t it teach its affluent students math? Can only half of them learn science?
Now that I know how much is being spent, I realize little more is to be gained from spending more—though it is rumored that the town is about to ask me and the other homeowners to pony up money to build a new—and, of course, bigger—middle school to go along with the $125- million-and-counting high school now being constructed.
I am not the only person to get annoyed when I find out how much is being spent on schooling. As I discuss in an op-ed in today’s Wall Street Journal, the 5th annual PEPG/Education Next poll shows public support for more spending drops precipitously when people learn how much schools are currently spending. They, like me, don’t think they are getting their money’s worth.
So, three cheers for education.com The site tells me a lot more about the schools in my town than does the official Wellesley website. From a quick perusal of that site, I learned that you can’t bring dead skunks to school, but I was unable to find any information on either per pupil expenditures or student test performance.
Check out your school on education.com The site may be a bit clunky, but it is one of the few places you can pretty easily find how much you are paying for—and what you are getting from—your local school.
-Paul E. Peterson