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Posted: June 12, 2009 12:01 a.m.

Education ROI

I was talking to a very conservative friend recently about the concern of some Newton County commissioners over the possibility of raising taxes. He pointed out that his children and grandchildren had all attended private school so where was his return on all the taxes that went for education? I think that is a fair question and one that deserves a fair answer.

Where the taxes were spent is the easy part. Having a school system requires school buildings, teachers, administrators, school buses, supplies of all sorts, staff for all the same functions as are found in any modern business and then some. Most businesses don’t have athletic coaches, baseball fields or basketball courts — not to mention textbooks, materials, student trips, etc. It takes a fair amount of money.

So, for any given taxpayer, is there a "return on investment" (ROI) from the money spent on education? I think the answer is yes and it isn’t that difficult to show.

Without a high school education, the average worker will make $766,000 over his work life. With some college (public junior colleges anyone?), it jumps to $1,267,000. What happens to the difference between those two outcomes? That would be $511,000 over a work life.

That $511,000 would go toward buying a house, cars at local dealers, food and clothes for a family at all the local shops, professional services from doctors and lawyers, paying taxes for the support of local government and similar things. For every $1 in taxes that go to education, the community is getting a several-fold return.

Government should spend our tax money wisely, but opposing taxes simply to oppose them impoverishes all of us, each and every one.

Patrick Durusau is a resident of Covington. His columns appear regularly on Fridays.

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