The United States spend a whopping $620 billion (or $12,296 per student) each year on
education baby-sitting. There are only two other "major countries" (see the link) that spend more - and their kids can actually read. But I don't want to talk to you about the obvious and easily quantifiable costs of education. I want to talk to you about the hidden costs, and especially my perennial favorite gripe, the traffic.
Now, conventionally, I'm not one to complain about traffic. I'm a man who is known to complain from time to time, but (as long as I can do so without being harassed by the road pirates) I actually enjoy driving around listening to the radio etc. But driving and sitting in traffic come at a price. More driving is more gas and maintenance on the car, and for a busy patriarch like myself with a house full of boys to lead, more driving is less precious time at home investing in my family, and less time working to earn dollars to feed them. For that reason, even a relatively short amount of time added to my long commute is a big problem.
Last week, I got a picture of just how much that problem is exacerbated by the public school system. It was spring break week for schools all over Georgia, and as a result, my long commute to Atlanta was a breeze. I literally drove in to work a few days without having to stop at all, and on the days I stopped, the wait was negligible. Spring break ended on Monday, and traffic instantly snarled again.
I haven't kept an exact tally or anything, but I'd say that my trip time was, to make a very conservative estimate, lengthened by 35% - at least 15 extra minutes in the car. Of course, that's half-an-hour round trip. Over five days, it's 2.5 hours.
That's more than two hours of not being productive, not making money, and not reading to my kids. And I really am being very conservative here with a paltry estimate of 35%.
Why is traffic snarled? Well, there are busses creeping through neighborhoods stopping every 50 yards, slowing people down. There are teachers driving in to the school. There are parents driving to the drop off. There are pantsuit-mommies driving to work instead of taking responsibility for their child's upbringing. It's a huge influx of traffic that would not and could not be there except for public schools.
And don't even get me started on driving 25 miles per hour in the school zone. The school is set back, like, two hundred yards from the road people. And crossing gaurds? And that line at the pick-up / drop-off? Listen, I could go on all day here.
So I think, "What if we take that 35% longer drive time and apply it to everyone who has to drive in to work on school days?" Well you can imagine what happens. For some people it will be more than three hours. For some people it will be less than 10 extra minutes. But for everyone, it will be something, and when you're talking about an economy of millions of people, it adds up quick.
According to Pew there are over 150 million workers in the workforce. Since I just complained about mommies working, let's be generous and cut that number down to 75 million working men who have to drive in to work. Let's also be generous and suppose that each of them only adds one hour to his work week as a result of school traffic.
Well, according to the bureau of labor statistics, the average worker earns about $24 per hour, and I'm picking 36 as the number of school weeks in a year (deal with it). So, multiply 36 weeks times 1 hour per worker times 75 million workers times 24 dollars per hour, and you just burned 64.8 BILLION DOLLARS.
But wait! There's more!
According to this local news site citing AAA, you burn a gallon of gas for every hour you sit idle. According to AAA the average gas price nationwide (today - it will obviously change) is $2.66 per gallon. So, $2.66 per gallon times 75 million workers times 36 weeks times one gallon per worker equals another 7.2 BILLION DOLLARS.
And remember, we're being super ultra conservative here. We're not counting how much gas school teachers and worker mommies waste. We cut our original time estimate significantly from how much I'd actually estimate my time is wasted. We presumed that the average person drives 40% less than I do (and I see alot of cars coming out of my area driving toward Atlanta).
So, by our very, very, ultra-generous estimate (which doesn't include car maintenance, car accidents, extra road construction, etc. etc.), Americans are spending a bare minimum of 72 BILLION DOLLARS in the hidden cost of public education traffic. Now let's divide that number by the shockingly high $13,000 price tag to give a child a government education. When we do, we find that the hidden cost of traffic all by itself could fund over five and a half million kids to go to school every year.
And let me tell you something: homeschooling doesn't cost $13,000 every year. Are you starting to see why public education doesn't make sense and vouchers to support homeschooling families do?
Listen, added traffic is just one expense, and we've barely dipped our toe into it, but there have got to be a million other hidden expenses that no one ever thinks or talks about (like, the cost of prosecuting pedophile teachers for example). When Marx and Engels conceived of "Free education for all children in public schools" they showed just how economically ignorant they are. Education in America is profoundly expensive, and in far more ways than we normally see.
Just one more thing that honest homeschooling families get to think about while sitting in traffic I guess.
Oh, and one other thing: I get the middle finger in traffic all the time. Don't forget who won you the right to use that finger pal.