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Are you getting your money's worth from school taxes?
email | 11/11/02 | Craig J. Cantoni

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 ccan2@aol.com.


TOPICS: Culture/Society; Editorial
KEYWORDS: education

1 posted on 11/12/2002 10:07:07 AM PST by hsmomx3
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To: hsmomx3
It should be noted that renters pay property taxes, too. They just don't know it because the taxes are built into their rent payments.
2 posted on 11/12/2002 10:12:21 AM PST by Alberta's Child
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To: hsmomx3; Vic3O3
I'd love to see President Bush put a tax credit or tax rebate into the next tax reform for people who chose to educated their children in private/parochial/home schools.

When the revenues start falling off in the public schools they may start to wake up and realize that they are failing.

Semper Fi
3 posted on 11/12/2002 10:13:11 AM PST by dd5339
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To: dd5339
I pray that this Congress could pass such a tax credit, but I won't hold my breath. I can only imagine the kind of offense the lib/dems and teachers union would mount against such a thing.
4 posted on 11/12/2002 10:15:15 AM PST by anniegetyourgun
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Comment #5 Removed by Moderator

To: hsmomx3
I never get any value for these tax dollars since my child is in private school. I put her there because she has 'special needs' that the government school couldn't handle. Her special needs are for something better than mediocrity, and her unwillingness to settle for a lousy education in an unsafe environment.
6 posted on 11/12/2002 10:17:55 AM PST by anniegetyourgun
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To: anniegetyourgun
If you consider that it is a competitive world and we as parents need to provide the best for our kids, you are getting a double bang for your money. You are providing your child with a superior education while helping fund a public education system that will ensure that its graduates will never be able to compete with your child. Offense and defense.
7 posted on 11/12/2002 10:23:14 AM PST by battlecry
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To: battlecry
LOL!
8 posted on 11/12/2002 10:27:56 AM PST by RAT Patrol
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To: hsmomx3
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.

And if you homeschool, it's even more depressing.

9 posted on 11/12/2002 10:32:55 AM PST by Lizavetta
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To: Alberta's Child
Hell ya...and the town I'm in has cranked up property taxes 3 times in the last 2 years to cover their so called projects...meanwhile half of the roads have gone to crap. I wish some outside agency would audit the crooks...
10 posted on 11/12/2002 10:34:23 AM PST by MD_Willington_1976
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To: MD_Willington_1976
Property taxes are the best argument against ever "owning" your home. I know people in New Jersey who are content to pay $9,000 per year in property taxes just because they are in a "good school system."

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?

11 posted on 11/12/2002 10:37:56 AM PST by Alberta's Child
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To: hsmomx3
The argument for publicly funded schools is predicated on the notion (and a convincing one at that) that society is better served by an educated populace. The problem with public schools falling short is a relatively new one, exacerbated by national teachers unions and control moved from local to near-national control.

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.

12 posted on 11/12/2002 10:41:02 AM PST by Mr. Bird
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To: anniegetyourgun
Actually, Senator George Allen (R-VA) sponsored a bill on that a year ago. . .but it got overwhelmed by 9/11. . .
13 posted on 11/12/2002 10:45:50 AM PST by Salgak
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To: hsmomx3
definately no.
14 posted on 11/12/2002 10:48:24 AM PST by Gophack
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To: hsmomx3
No way in H***! I worked for a manager in PA, who lasted less than a year (he lied to get his job and was a total waste product -- Columbia U grad) who was married to a teacher.

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.

15 posted on 11/12/2002 10:52:32 AM PST by ReaganIsRight
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To: hsmomx3
There are many, many gym teachers, librarians and school nurses who are getting well over $70,000 for 190 days of work in Delaware County Pa. And that doesn't count benefits or extra-curricular work.

School choice, now!

16 posted on 11/12/2002 12:02:19 PM PST by Tribune7
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To: hsmomx3
I'd be getting my money's worth if we weren't homeschooling our kids.(4 girls so far)
17 posted on 11/12/2002 12:32:26 PM PST by Melinas_Man
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To: hsmomx3
Of course, it is not a good deal if he has no kids or if he sends his kids to private school or homeschools his kids.

Bingo!

18 posted on 11/12/2002 12:33:27 PM PST by cruiserman
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To: Mr. Bird
The argument for publicly funded schools is predicated on the notion (and a convincing one at that) that society is better served by an educated populace.

That argument assumes that educating kids in gov't schools is the way to do it, not through individual choice.

19 posted on 11/12/2002 12:36:12 PM PST by cruiserman
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To: anniegetyourgun
I never get any value for these tax dollars since my child is in private school. I put her there because she has 'special needs' that the government school couldn't handle. Her special needs are for something better than mediocrity, and her unwillingness to settle for a lousy education in an unsafe environment

Ditto!!
20 posted on 11/12/2002 12:43:37 PM PST by Sweet_Sunflower29
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To: hsmomx3
I live in South New Jersey--Have been paying School Taxes for children I don't have for many years...Could be a Millionaire LOL
21 posted on 11/12/2002 12:49:21 PM PST by Princess G
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To: Tribune7
Read the post above yours. 82K a year in Bucks in '95. I have no idea what they make now.

I figured that high school teachers taught 4 periods per day (max allowed) out of 7, I know they took most of their alloted 10 days sick leave, and had extra help provided to grade homework and tests. I came up with $115/hour more or less.

The worst part was the more money they made the less work they did.

22 posted on 11/12/2002 12:57:19 PM PST by ReaganIsRight
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To: Conservative Dr.Pepper Drinker
What about people like myself who have no children and never will? I get NOTHING for my money and I get no say how the school taxes are spent because I have no children.


23 posted on 11/12/2002 1:17:19 PM PST by unixfox
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To: battlecry
It's a very interesting way to look at it, bc! I think it works as far as we are able to keep libs from shutting down opportunities for privately educated (and homeschooled) kids in the future.

For example, in the state we used to live in they are fast marching toward "certificates of mastery" for anyone to graduate from HS. It's the first step to requiring one to have one before going to college or getting a job.

That little camel's nose under the tent leads to keeping private/home schooled kids out of the marketplace. Socialists must be defeated at every turn because part of their plan is to relegate conservatives (especially Christian conservatives) into a socio-economic ghetto.

24 posted on 11/12/2002 1:26:23 PM PST by anniegetyourgun
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To: hsmomx3
In Putnam Valley New York (with a school district cited by the state for financial mis-management) we are paying $21,000 per student, per year. The entertaining thing is, if they hadn't lowered the standard in New York to 65% from the 70% in most states, then we would be a failing school district. 68% of all 8th graders pass the state mandated tests.

Thanks NEA.

25 posted on 11/12/2002 1:28:58 PM PST by tcostell
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To: ReaganIsRight
Haverford School Board last week just approved a teacher contract which will give it's school district a maximum salary of $89,000 in two years. I think its $85,000 now.

The average salary in Delco -- which includes some fairly poor districts is getting very close to $70,000 for 190 days.

I figured that high school teachers taught 4 periods per day (max allowed) out of 7, I know they took most of their alloted 10 days sick leave, and had extra help provided to grade homework and tests. I came up with $115/hour more or less.

I belive that estimate. I like to emphasize that rate applies to everybody in the bargaining unit -- not just computer science teachers or those with hard science backgrounds who could be getting close to six figures in the private sector as engineers or research scientist. And even more damningly the rate applies regardless of competence.

The worst part was the more money they made the less work they did.

Absolutely true! One of the crusades I've been on is trying to over turn Act 195 of 1970 which gave teachers in this state the right to strike. It's been modified but the salary still goes up 4-plus percent apart from the automatic step increases. And you can't fire those who don't feel like working.

A blanket school choice policy would also work.

26 posted on 11/12/2002 1:58:15 PM PST by Tribune7
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To: Tribune7
I don't remember Act 195. I was a senior in HS and the teachers threatened to strike in '70. My attitude was fire 'em all and hire qualified people. One of our best substitute teachers was an airline pilot. We had a lot of study halls where we were free to go where we wanted, the lobby was the social meeting place. They didn't even care to put the students in 7 classes per day. I took an extra class because I needed so few to graduate my guidance counselor wondered why I was coming.

I also don't remember 190 days, I thought it was 182.

The teachers were mostly older (in HS) and the social studies dept. was hired in the 50's. My uncle told me they used to hang out in a local bar and play cards on Fri nite. They sipped their nickel beers waiting for a real worker to buy a round for the house.

The bar owner couldn't throw them out like he was urged because it was against the law. I'm surprised their cars started when they left.

They were mostly persona non grata everywhere they went and you better believe they knew it. A good friend of mine was the son of one of the SS teachers, and when his father went to a party the men didn't really talk to him, he ended up talking with the women, who didn't like it, but what are you gonna do? He was a lousy teacher, taught out of Time and Newsweek.

I was very fortunate, I had some excellent teachers, and our area was 3-1 Republican. One woman was a former wildcatter from Oklahoma.

It was probably Act 195 and of course the teachers that killed the plan to send seniors to the local college to combine senior year and freshman year into one. Baltimore Polytechnic used to graduate kids in the A program that went to college as sophomores.

One friend of mine got pis**d off at his math teacher in college and just tested out of the course. We need more of this.

Is Haverford any better than it was in the '70's? I dated an Italian-Irish girl from there in college. Her family moved from South Philly to get away from the crime. I spent the nite in her brother's room one nite. It was available because he was in custody.

27 posted on 11/12/2002 4:24:26 PM PST by ReaganIsRight
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To: battlecry
If you consider that it is a competitive world and we as parents need to provide the best for our kids, you are getting a double bang for your money. You are providing your child with a superior education while helping fund a public education system that will ensure that its graduates will never be able to compete with your child. Offense and defense.

Wow, that is so cynical, and yet... so true. I'm reeling. That's a good point!

28 posted on 11/12/2002 4:38:16 PM PST by A_perfect_lady
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To: ReaganIsRight
I know of a similar situation. Myself, I am having a hard time finding a teaching job, with only a B.A. and an M.A. It seems in Kansas you are unqualified to teach History unless you go throught their certification program. Meanwhile, I personally am acquainted with a young woman who has been hospitalized twice for suicide attempts, had 2 DUI's, (one removed through a diversion program) and numerous drinking, boyfriend, freakout problems. She is , of course, a certified teacher (5th grade) in the great state of Kansas, and has had no trouble finding jobs. I am starting a PhD program next fall, and hopefully then I will be able to teach in Kansas without the certification my "talented" acquaintence has.
29 posted on 11/12/2002 5:09:08 PM PST by Will_Zurmacht
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To: ReaganIsRight
I don't remember Act 195.

That's the law that prevents school board's from firing striking teachers. It was reformed by Act 88 in 1991 (?) but it's still the source of the problem.

I also don't remember 190 days, I thought it was 182.

One of the few concessions the board's had been able to squeeze from the teachers is a slight increase in the work year. The length varies district by district. Students in Pa. are required to have 180 days of school.

Is Haverford any better than it was in the '70's?

No. It's probably much wose.

30 posted on 11/12/2002 5:57:31 PM PST by Tribune7
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To: Mr. Bird
I pay a ton in taxes too and have four children. We have always homeschooled (that means I have never received one penny of "services" from the school system.)

I sure could use the money that I have paid in, however.

31 posted on 11/12/2002 6:05:36 PM PST by RipeforTruth
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Comment #32 Removed by Moderator

Comment #33 Removed by Moderator

To: Alberta's Child
Property taxes are the best argument against ever "owning" your home. I know people in New Jersey who are content to pay $9,000 per year in property taxes just because they are in a "good school system." 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?

You make a good point. However, unless you are Superman and fly to your Fortress of Solitude every day, you have to live somewhere. And if you rent that very same house instead of "owning" it, the owner is going to roll all of the mortgage + tax + maintenance + 10% into your rental payment. And he/she will then take the mortgage interest deduction on top of that.

I've rented and "owned". "Owning" has been better for me.

34 posted on 11/12/2002 6:44:51 PM PST by dark_lord
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To: home educate
I agree with most of your points except the voucher one. There are a lot of us conservatives that would use them if we can't get our money back any other way.
35 posted on 11/12/2002 6:49:06 PM PST by TXBubba
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To: home educate
I especially vote for getting rid of the Dept. of Ed.!
36 posted on 11/12/2002 6:49:57 PM PST by TXBubba
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Comment #37 Removed by Moderator

To: Alberta's Child
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?

Because it is titled, you don't really own all of it. With a title the state is part owner; so they can tax it and put leins on it if they so desire.

Check out how the process of titling property got started. Ostensbibly for preventing fraud etc. More likely the real motive was to erect a system to tax property, with the the protection of the property owners only a byproduct.

38 posted on 11/12/2002 8:04:41 PM PST by suijuris
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To: home educate
I agree with you. I just think the voucher idea may have to be an interim process until folks wake up to the fact that the public schools are failures. There are too many clueless parents out there that just don't get it and I don't believe will vote in a tax credit. They will see it as being unfair. At least the voucher system in Milwaukee is successful and making a good argument for a switch.
39 posted on 11/12/2002 8:05:21 PM PST by TXBubba
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Comment #40 Removed by Moderator

To: anniegetyourgun
"I can only imagine the kind of offense the lib/dems and teachers union would mount against such a thing."

well, yeah. but can you imagine the kind of offense the lib/dems and teachers union would mount against jeb bush?

f*ck 'em, i say.

41 posted on 11/12/2002 10:23:09 PM PST by johnboy
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To: Lizavetta
And if you homeschool, it's even more depressing.

Well, depressing from a taxation standpoint, but at least your kids are not being raised/desocialized by the other little yard-apes in kiddie jail!

42 posted on 11/13/2002 6:39:12 AM PST by Vic3O3
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To: Alberta's Child
I know people in New Jersey who are content to pay $9,000 per year in property taxes just because they are in a "good school system." 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?

Too many people in NJ cannot do simple arithmetic. Right here in our little blue collar town, the voters just put the same people who raised their school taxes after the voters shot down the tax increase at the polls right back into office.

43 posted on 11/13/2002 6:48:59 AM PST by Tired of Taxes
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To: home educate
Say no to vouchers; they're just a transfer of your wealth to the liberals. Demand your money back in the form of an Educational Tax Credit.

Thank you, thank you so much for saying that. Actually, I would prefer to be exempt from school tax altogether, but I'd settle for an education tax credit at first. Vouchers wouldn't be given to the people paying the bulk of school taxes - they'd only be awarded to the "needy" (i.e. the people not paying the bulk of the school taxes). Then, not only would we pay for public schools, but we'd pay for other people's children's private school education, too.

44 posted on 11/13/2002 6:53:09 AM PST by Tired of Taxes
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Comment #45 Removed by Moderator

To: home educate
It's good to hear someone else supporting the same position of education tax credits (as opposed to vouchers).

You must be in the same situation I'm in right now. Some of my children have been home educated, while some have been educated in private schools. And I'm to my neck in property taxes that are supposedly going toward educating someone else's childre. Well, I, like you, want my money back!!!!

I hear ya'! We live in South Jersey where the property taxes are way out of sync with the property values and families' incomes. Our children are all homeschooled right now, but we hope to send them to private schools in the future. Yet, we may not have that option as, like you, we're struggling to pay school taxes.

Thanks again for your comments! I hope the situation improves for all of us soon.

46 posted on 11/13/2002 8:06:37 PM PST by Tired of Taxes
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