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Letters to the Editor

School lessons

| Friday, Jan. 6, 2006

In the Trib's editorial on the inefficiency of public schools ( "America's report card," Jan. 2 and TribLIVE.com), you note that U.S. per student spending is second only to Switzerland.

I've been a public school teacher in Pennsylvania and West Virginia for more than 30 years and have seen these statistics often. What your editorial didn't do (and European schools don't do) is break down the education costs on an even basis.

American schools are highly administrative-heavy. We in West Virginia have 55 county systems (Pennsylvania has that many districts in your readership area), each with very expensive superintendents and central office administrations.

Most European and all Japanese schools have one national education system -- a savings of hundreds of millions of dollars in administrative costs. European states rely on state-run mass transit; American school districts must budget for transportation.

America schools also demand a sports budget, with athletic directors, coaches, fields, million-dollar sports complexes, etc., that European schools farm out to "club" sports (which are paid for by parents, not taxpayers). I'm sure Switzerland is not paying hundreds of millions for excessive administrations, sports centers and student transport.

So next time please include all actual per pupil costs. Then you will get a truer figure than the one presented. On actual per student instructional dollars spent, we may be closer to the bottom of your list.

Kim Stephen Mattis Triadelphia, W.Va.

The writer is the librarian at Wheeling Park High School in Wheeling.

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