When any bureaucracy faces a budget cut, it typically cuts services before it cuts fat. When a bureaucracy cuts services, it enlists the public as an ally in defence of its budget.

Further, the high-paid, do-nothing jobs in a bureaucracy typically go to politically-connected insiders, who can best defend their positions. Furlough Friday has Hawaii parents scrambling for day-care and screaming for higher taxes. Unasked and unanswered is the question: “How much money is enough?”

Raw statistics on the Hawaii DOE budget appear with suspicious infrequency in the print and broadcast news media. Although politicians and DOE administrators make self-serving and deceptive statements which few journalists question, one source, the DOE accounting branch, files with the Federal government an official financial summary, the Public Education Finance Survey, which carries a penalty for false reporting.

”Hawaii DOE total revenues, fiscal year 2006-2007”



”Hawaii DOE, current expenditures”



”Hawaii DOE revenues and expenditures, fiscal year 2006-2007:”

c=Total revenues = $2,985,593,000.

d=Current expenditures = $2, 061, 560,000.


e=Enrollment, 2006-2007. 180,728






Since 1970, DOE per pupil expenditures have more than doubled, in inflation-adjusted dollars.

Hawaii DOE current expenditures per pupil, 1969-70 to 2005-06:

$4,280 to $10,131 (inflation-adjusted dollars)


No country on Earth spends more, per pupil, than Hawaii’s $11,000.

International comparison and US average:

#1 Switzerland ($9,348.00). #3 USA ($7,764.00).


It does not take 12 years at $11,000 per pupil-year to teach a normal child to read and compute. Most vocational training occurs more effectively on the job than in a classroom. State (government, generally) provision of History and Civics instruction is a threat to democracy, just as State operation of newspapers would be (is, in totalitarian countries).

Neither George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, nor James Madison attended a government-operated school. Cyrus McCormick and Thomas Edison were homeschooled. The Wright brothers were high school dropouts.

“Consider what we do to our kids. Is it really a good idea to send your 6-year-old into a room full of 6-year-olds, and then, the next year, to put your 7-year-old in with 7-year-olds, and so on? A simple recursive argument suggests this exposes them to a real danger of all growing up with the minds of 6-year-olds. And, so far as I can see, that’s exactly what happens. Our present culture may be largely shaped by this strange idea of isolating children’s thought from adult thought. Perhaps the way our culture educates its children better explains why most of us come out as dumb as they do, than it explains how some of us come out as smart as they do.”–Marvin Minsky

Why is $11,000 per pupil-year insufficient? Is there any amount of money so great that the out-of-classroom parasites who infest the DOE bureaucracy cannot waste it?

Across industriies, across countries, State-monopoly enterprises deliver wretched services at high cost. In abstract, the education industry is an unlikely candidate for State (government, generally) operation. The education industry is not a natural monopoly. Beyond a very low level, there are no economies of scale at the delivery end of the education business as it currently operates. Education only marginally qualifies as a public good as economists use the term and the “public goods” argument implies subsidy and regulation, at most, not State (government, generally) operation of an industry.

Gerard Lassibile and Lucia Navarro Gomez, “Organization and Efficiency of Educational Systems: some empirical findings” – Comparative Education, Vol. 36 #1, 2000, Feb. , pg. 16,

“Furthermore, the regression results indicate that countries where private education is more widespread perform significantly better than countries where it is more limited. The result showing the private sector to be more efficient is similar to those found in other contexts with individual data (see, for example, Psucharopoulos, 1987; Jiminez, et. al, 1991). This finding should convince countries to reconsider policies that reduce the role of the private sector in the field of education”.

Current policy in Hawaii and most other US States restricts parents’ options for the use of the taxpayers’ K-12 education subsidy to schools operated by State (government, generally) employees. This policy originated in anti-Catholic bigotry and survives on dedicated lobbying by current recipients of the Hawaii taxpayers’ $2.9 billion/year (US, $500 billion+) K-12 education subsidy.

The “public” school system has become an employment program for dues-paying members of public-sector unions, a source of padded construction and supply contracts for politically-connected insiders, and a venue for State-worshipful indoctrination.

If this is not so, why cannot any child take, at any age, an exit exam (the GED will do) and apply the taxpayers’ age 6-18 education subsidy toward post secondary tuition or toward a wage subsidy at any qualified (say, has filed W-2 forms on at least three adult employees for at least the previous foyr years) private-sector employer?

‘Malcolm Kirkpatrick is a Hawaii teacher who has devoted over a decade to investigating the DOE’s management and financial practices. He blogs at http://harriettubmanagenda.blogspot.com/ Reach him at mailto:malcolmkirkpatrick@yahoo.com’