Thursday, March 18, 2004


K-12 education cost Nebraskans $1.3 billion a year in 1992-03. Ten years later, that figure stood at just over $2 billion. That's an increase of more than 50 percent.

Meanwhile, enrollment increased a grand total of 304 students, approximately one-tenth of 1 percent. That's more than $2.3 million per extra pupil. And some people say we aren't spending enough on public education. . . .

Anyway, the point is, we need to analyze WHY this is so.

The answer comes down to one thing: outcome-based education.

If Nebraska had been smart and stayed the Sam Hill away from OBE (they call it ''standards-based'' or ''performance-based'' now, to try to conceal its ugly mug), we would never have had to hire the tsunami waves of additional employees in our schools.

That's because outcome-based education is not only a crummy way to teach. It's a horribly labor-intensive crummy way to teach.

Because it shifts the focus away from academics and onto social engineering, OBE in effect forces schools to hire more people to teach less actual stuff. When you hire more people, you have to pay more salaries, buy more health insurance, provide more parking spaces, yadda yadda yadda.

Meanwhile, kids can read, write and figure less and less and less.

Observe: employee benefits for teachers in Nebraska districts providing ''regular instruction'' in 1992-93 cost $137.4 million. Ten years later, those bennies cost taxpayers $221.9 million. That's a 61.5 percent increase, for regular classroom teachers alone.

It doesn't even count the incredible increases in salaries and benefits for additional school personnel we've been forced to hire to comply with OBE. They've been added in English Language Learning, special education, support services for staff and students, support services for safety and security, school improvement, standards implementation staff, administration, principals, business services, transportation, maintenance . . . you get the idea.

You can check these and other examples of the increases in categorical spending by school districts across Nebraska, reported as statewide totals on the State Education Department's financial website, http://ess.nde.state.ne.us/SchoolFinance/AFR/search/afr.htm

Only a handful of Nebraskans understood what we were getting in to, with OBE, more than a decade ago. Would that their voices would have been heard.

Now all we hear are the screams of how much it costs and what the impact is on the kids' academic progress.

We can't turn the clock back . . . but it's past time to get rid of OBE. And do it now, before we all get our clocks cleaned by this over-expensive, under-productive educational philosophy.

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