Skip to comments.Are you getting your money's worth from school taxes?
Posted on 11/12/2002 10:07:07 AM PST by hsmomx3
It is a safe bet that you do not know how much you pay in school taxes. And if you do not know, you do not have an objective way of determining if you are getting your money's worth. This article attempts to provide an answer.
If you are a homeowner and not a renter, the starting point is your property tax bill, which lists how much of your property taxes goes towards education. Of course, the bill will not tell you how much you pay in other taxes to public schools, a number that is virtually impossible to determine.
Incidentally, the hidden nature of the other school taxes is one of the reasons that teacher unions and the education establishment want schools funded out of general revenue instead of property taxes.
Although it is an incomplete picture, let's focus on property taxes for a moment, using my property taxes as a starting point.
Sixty-four percent of my property taxes, or $1,853, goes to schools, excluding the additional $358 that goes to community colleges. That is a 35 percent increase over the last five years, or three times the inflation rate for the period.
When I lived in New Jersey for 10 years, the property taxes were over twice as much as the taxes on my current home in Scottsdale Arizona, due to the Garden State spending $10,000 per student, versus Arizona's $7,000.
Let's assume that an Arizona homeowner with a house worth half as much as mine pays half the school property taxes, or $926. And for ease of calculation, let's also assume that the amount stays constant in inflation-adjusted dollars over the homeowner's adult lifetime, which we will say for discussion purposes is 60 years.
With those assumptions, the homeowner will pay approximately $55,560 in education-related property taxes over his adult life (60 years times $926). I will pay twice as much, or $111,120, excluding the much higher amount that I paid while living in New Jersey.
Now let's assume that Arizona's per-pupil spending of about $7,000 also stays constant in inflation-adjusted dollars. That means that the 12-year cost of a public k-12 education is $84,000.
Thus, the person paying $926 a year in education-related taxes is getting a good deal, putting aside the issue of educational quality. If he sends one kid to public school for 12 years, he gets $84,000 worth of education at a cost in lifetime property-related taxes of $55,560. The deal is even better if he has three kids. In that case, he gets $252,000 worth of education at a cost of $55,560.
Of course, it is not a good deal if he has no kids or if he sends his kids to private school, in which case he gets $0 worth of education at a cost of $55,560. Since my kid attends parochial school, I get an even worse deal. I will pay $111,120 to public schools and another $50,000 or so in private tuition, for a total of $161,120 to provide my son with a k-12 education.
Another way to look at my cost and the cost of all parents who send their kids to religious schools is that we are paying twice for the same education in order to exercise our religious freedom. That angle is never covered in the mainstream media on the voucher debate and the related issue of the separation of church and state.
Are you getting your money's worth from public education? The answer is "yes" if you send at least one kid to public school, especially if you live in a lower-priced house. The answer is "definitely yes" if you send more than one kid to public school. The answer is "no" if you do not have children. And the answer is "definitely no" if your kid attends private school.
According to Genesis 1:28, the Lord told Adam and Eve, "Be fruitful and multiply." He should said, "To get a good deal at your neighbor's expense, be fruitful, multiply and send your kids to public schools."
Mr. Cantoni is an author, public speaker and consultant. He can be reached at email@example.com.
The answer is "definitely yes" if you send more than one kid to public school.
The answer is "no" if you do not have children.
And the answer is "definitely no" if your kid attends private school.
And if you homeschool, it's even more depressing.
How can you possibly say that you own your home when it costs you $750 per month to live there even after your mortgage is paid and your title is free and clear of all liens?
As someone who does not have children, and does not plan on having any in the near future, I pay dearly for the idea of a workable public school system. I do not object to that premise. However, as the years go by, I am increasingly convinced that the what the government is providing is not an education, but a variation on daycare.
I think the simplest assessment of the current situation is that no one is getting their money's worth.
For 82K a year (1995 bucks) we had a woman who was a Special Ed teacher (this is the bottom of the bottom of the college graduates) that finagled her way into teaching 6th grade math. For 1 1/2 years she would bring her students questions home to her husband and get back the next day with the answer. I can't believe this moron told me this more than once! Of course, he was a lib.
School choice, now!
That argument assumes that educating kids in gov't schools is the way to do it, not through individual choice.