The U.S. Census Bureau collects data annually regarding education. Recently, Valerie Strauss of The Washington Post documented some of these numbers, providing a snapshot of the state of education in the United States. As our K-12 and collegiate institutions open their doors for another year of schooling, consider these facts.
In August 2010, $7.4 billion was spent in family clothing stores. More than 77 million K-12 students and adults were enrolled in school in 2009. Fifty two percent of 3- and 4-year-olds attended school during the 2009-10 school year. Seventy four percent of 5- and 6-year-olds attended all-day school during that year. The projected 2011-12 school year numbers include 55.5 million students who will enroll in K-12 schools, of which 11 percent will enroll in private K-12 schools.
October 2009 statistics show 43 percent of K-12 students belonged to a minority group, 23 percent of K-12 students had at least one foreign-born parent and 11.1 million students came from a home where a language other than English was spoken at home (8 million of them spoke Spanish).
Universities and colleges expect to enroll 19.7 million students this fall, up from 14.4 million in 1990. As of October 2009, 16 percent of the students enrolled in higher education are 34 or older, 50 percent of 18- and 19-year-olds were enrolled in college and 56 percent of college students were women. In 2008, 41.2 percent of all degrees were earned by males, down from 60 percent in 1960.
The number of public schools totaled 98,708 in 2008-09, with private schools totaling 33,740. Higher education institutions providing degree training numbered 4,409. In 2008-09 4,694 public charter schools enrolled 1,433,116 students.
In 2009, there were 7.2 million teachers in the United States. As of 2008, the average K-12 teacher's salary was $52,800. California had the highest average yearly teacher wage at $65,800, while South Dakota educators came in at the low end averaging $36,700 annually. Other states of local interest include: Michigan - $56,100, Minnesota - 50,600, and Wisconsin - 49,100.
The rewards for completing each level of education continue to illustrate compensation for the effort. In 2008, the U.S. Census bureau found that the average earnings for workers 18 or older that had earned an advanced degree was $83,144. Those individuals without a high school diploma earned on average $21,023 annually while those earning a bachelor's degree earned $58,613 and high school diploma $31,283. Petroleum Engineers topped the highest average starting salary for college graduates at $85,417.
It is estimated that 3.4 million degrees will be awarded in the 2011-12 school year, with 3.2 million high school diplomas being earned. The national K-12 per student spending average in 2009 was $10,419. State spending on K-12 education ranges from New York at $18,126 per student to Utah at $6,356 per student. Michigan comes in at $10,483 per student.
During the 2006-07 school year, the most recent data available, 89 percent of K-12 parents or other household member attended a general school meeting or parent organization meeting. Of all families of K-12 students, 65 percent participated in a school fundraiser and 46 percent volunteered to be a school committee.
As we start another school year, by the numbers the value of education cannot be disputed. Increased knowledge equates to increase earnings power and increased contributions to our economy and society. As a new school year begins we all need to embrace the strengthening of our intellectual muscle.
Editor's note: Steve Patchin is the director of the Center for Pre-College Outreach at Michigan Technological University.