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Matt's Blog

A Most Stupendous & Audacious Undertaking

How to think about the age of the universe...
The age of the universe (~14 billion years) would give you enough time to experience two years of the life of everyone on Earth.  

Cost/benefit analysis of teacher salaries... good teaching is worth an extra $390,000/classroom/yr
There's been some buzz in the media about our failing educational system lately.   I thought I'd do a little analysis of the benefits of education. 

Suppose that a good vs mediocre K-12 education increases your annual expected earnings (in 2011 dollars) by $15,000/yr.  I think it's probably more than that, but I'm being conservative.  If you work for 45 years, that's an extra $675,000.  Suppose the government gets 25% of this extra salary -- $169,000.  For this to be a net increase in revenue for the government, they'd need to spend less than an additional $13,000 per year per student on the 13 years of government-funded education.  If you have a class with 30 students, that's an additional $390,000 per classroom.

As long as the school system spends less than *an additional* $390,000 per classroom per year to raise student earning potential by $15,000 a year, the government will financially come out ahead on the deal.  

So why isn't teacher accreditation as difficult as medical school, and why don't teachers have starting salaries of $120,000/yr?

By the same logic, programs for gifted students should receive even more funding per person, as those students (on average) have the potential to generate the government even more revenue.  This may sound cold, but I'm trying to look at this as a business opportunity since proving financial benefit will often convince more people than abstract ideals of the pursuit of excellence.  The math doesn't lie -- kids with intelligence and drive should be given the best education money can buy. 


I should say for the record that I'm not a fan of teachers' unions in their current form.  In my direct experience as a high school student, the unions often protected mediocrity at the expense of excellence.  Bad teachers were shuffled around from district to district beause they could not be fired for anything short of sexual misconduct.   Good teachers were not substantially honored or rewarded.