Sunday, March 14, 2010

Costs of Kentuckys weak public education system are going up

On February 25, 2010 Dr. Michael B. McCall, the president of the Kentucky Community and Technical College System (KCTCS) made an eye-catching presentation to the Kentucky Senate’s Education Committee.

Among other things, Dr. McCall pointed to the huge percentage of students entering the KCTCS who are underprepared and need at least one non-credit-bearing remedial course. Using this figure, McCall pointed out that more than three out of four KCTCS entering students need at least one remedial course – a staggering indictment of the output of our public schools.

The cost of this remediation is enormous, and students will bear the vast majority of that cost, as the next figure from Dr. McCall shows.

In the 2010-11 school year, student tuition for non-credit remedial courses is projected to run $19.0 million. Additional costs of more than $10 million will be borne by taxpayers and organizations providing grants and other money.

One year later, that cost to fix the deficiencies from our pubic education system will rise by another $1.5 million.

It should be pointed out that the numbers in the second figure represent phenomenal increases from earlier remedial costs that were being discussed only a few years ago. Back then, the entire cost for remedial courses for both the KCTCS and our 4-year universities combined was listed at $25 million, and tuition only accounted for about $12.5 million of that amount. Now, the tuition costs alone for just the KCTCS are anticipated to be over 50 percent higher than the total tuition costs for all the state’s two- and four-year colleges ran just a couple of years ago.

Recently, it was reported that overall remedial costs for the entire system including the four-year schools runs around $35 million.

Furthermore, the colleges are tightening standards next year, which will probably result in a lot more students requiring remedial courses, further boosting the costs of failure in our public schools system.

The good news here is that the Senate Education Committee is clearly keeping and eye on what is going on, but the bad news is our public school system clearly has a lot to do to turn these very bad numbers around so kids in the current cash-strapped economy don’t have to pay twice for something the taxpayer already paid for while the students were in public schools.

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