Opportunity Cost Education

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Dec 182016

Opportunity Cost Education

Spending More, Seeing No Individual Student Performance Improvement Gains

Educators Diverting Attention from the Real Issue; And Sometimes, Mis-Representing the Facts

opportunity cost education

Opportunity Cost Education – Tom McDonald, December 18, 2016

Currently, the funding public (that’s you and me), annually, spends $634 Billion, in the US, trying, unsuccessfully,  to advance individual performance improvement for our teachers and for our students, for the most part, under a flawed, discredited, 20th century, one size fits all, teaching methodology (lecture, seminar, whiteboards, clickers, power point slides, blackboards, word documents, PdF Files, One tablet to One student, and one size fits all eLearning,  programs) . Compared to other developed countries, we are spending more, per student and getting less for our per student investment . And, even with more money being spent, there remains an unchanged, US system, of student success, performance improvement, educational mediocrity.

Also, we are wasting $8 Billion dollars a year, that’s $18,000 per teacher, per year, under the same flawed, one size fits all, teaching methodology trying, unsuccessfully, to advance the individual performance improvement of teachers; i.e., We are massively unsuccessful in what we are currently doing, to empower our teachers, to empower our students, with effective, efficient, consistent, affordable, relevant, sustained, advanced, student success, performance improvement outcomes.

opportunity cost education

If the above isn’t bad enough, it’s simply, just the tip of the iceberg.

We currently are spending $634 Billion, to maintain an unchanging, flawed, discredited, overpriced, ineffective, inefficient, inconsistent, non-relevant, 20th century, one size fits all, system, of teacher success/student success, performance improvement mediocrity.

What other, not so obvious costs, are we experiencing with this unchanging, flawed, discredited system of one size fits all, teaching?

opportunity cost education

(1) Some, not all students, at best, via one size fits all lecture, gain superficial, initial understanding, of key information, which will soon be forgotten. This is called the forgetting curve. Initial understanding, by itself, will never effectively, efficiently, consistently and affordably, result in individual, sustained, performance improvement outcomes. Never.

(2) Students spending way more time, than is necessary, trying to learn key information. One size fits all efficacy favors the institution, to the direct disadvantage of the students. This can result in students delaying graduation, resulting in more direct costs.

(3) Students not being able to apply the information in the real world. There is a trial and error cost for each student and their employer(s)

(4) Let’s call this item re-education;  Remediation requirements – compass, for example. Re-educating students with information they should have been educated in. There are additional costs for students, the public and employers to re-educate, or to train students with lacking, but required, 21st century skills.

(5) The emotional costs of ‘student failure’. One size fits all, teaching to the middle, systemically favors middle class white Americans, to the disadvantage of everyone else. We call this the education gap. One size fits all teaching to the middle will never fix the education gap. This discredited, teaching methodology, is systemically and inherently flawed. It will never deliver beyond educational mediocrity for a select few.

(6) The societal costs of student failure.

  • Spending more time and money than necessary, to be empowered to be successful, in a way that directly advances, sustained, individual performance improvement outcomes
    • Trial and error costs
    • Re-education costs
    • Education costs, after graduation, of lacking, but required, 21st century skills
  • Graduating with no usable knowledge and no marketable skills.The opportunity cost, of not being able to spend that time more productively
  • Students not graduating, dropping out AND not being empowered with  basic skills, up to that point.
    • Society loses positive contributions from these folks that traditional education, systemically fails.
    • Society also adds these direct costs, resulting from a flawed, discredited system of one size fits all teaching to the middle:
      • Unemployment
      • Underemployment
      • Welfare
      • Crime
      • Substance Abuse Including Rehab Costs
      • Incarceration
    • Here is an all inclusive, documented, calculation of K-12 gains, in continuation schools association and in charter schools association, in California, with advanced, student success outcomes. This was shared with each association, as well as school leaders. No-one cared. I shared it with the Governor of California, Arnold and he wrote me a very nice letter, saying he had no influence. It was the responsibility of each school district. Hmmm.

opportunity cost ed

IF you care, about education being better than mediocre,  YOU MUST ask your educators why they have not completely and totally replaced, flawed, discredited, 20th Century, one size fits all teaching, with educationally innovative, 21st century, deep adaptive learning, methodologies for teachers and for students.

We need to STOP listening to special interest groups, the loudest voice in the room, that have a self-serving interest in maintaining a flawed system of teaching and start asking questions, to educators, specific to the proper use of educationally innovative tools, that measurably advance teacher and student success, performance improvement outcomes.


Tom McDonald, tsm@centurytel.net; 608-788-5144; Skype: tsmw5752

teacher success