Just where does all the money go in ‘financially troubled’ school districts?

If you live in DC or Philadelphia, a huge chunk of the school system’s budget goes to consultants. I submit that just like with the banking and insurance industries, the huge sums paid to the top school officers and to their friends consultants is a large part of the reason why many school systems are approaching bankruptcy.

For example, in Philadelphia, one such firm, the Boston Consulting Group (BCG), is earning an enormous bundle: it ALONE earned nearly $12 million from the Philly school district. (Just the initials BCG make one suspect the company is involved with giving the kids in Philadelphia a horrible case of tuberculosis. I don’t think they are curing anybody!)

Think I’m exaggerating? No.

(except for the bitter jest about TB.)

To quote from an article in Education week,

“At the moment, Boston Consulting Group has a limited presence in the district; funds to support the firm’s $230,000 per week price tag ran out June 11.”

If you multiply this $230,000 per week ‘price tag’ times 52 weeks in a year, you should get $11,960,000, which is essentially twelve million dollars. It’s kind of sad that all these high-powered ex-TFA whiz kids come to office claiming they can fix everything — but they turn around and hire consultants to tell them what to do — because, you see, they soon realize they don’t know squat about running schools. This company, as the article shows, have been acting as a shadow management in Philly for some years. For 4 years, the BCG  fees add up to almost $50 million — for ONE consulting firm! And there are undoubtedly many other firms, even if they don’t all charge as much as this one does.

No wonder the Philadelphia public schools are going to go into debt!

You can read some of my own prior posts on the costs of consultants in Washington, DC public schools. Or just do a search for “consultants” in the little search window in the upper right-hand corner of this window. What I found is that during the ’09-’10 school year, the District of Columbia spent, on the average, 40% of their total purchases on what appeared to me to be consulting fees. Only about 34% of the contracted purchases were for things that were probably school-related, such as textbooks, desks, school-related supplies, and computers. [And of those latter purchases, we don't know how much actually went out into the classrooms for student use, and how much stayed in administrative offices!] Here is my original table: read it and weep.

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Published in: on July 12, 2012 at 11:43 am  Comments (4)  
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4 CommentsLeave a comment

  1. Substitute teachers are like consultants, and are paid about $120/day. That’s what all consultants should be paid.

  2. At that rate, $230,000 divided by $600 per week (5 days of work per week times $120 / day) that firm would have had about 383 consultants working full time. Just think — since those consultants are so wonderful, (TFA and the Ivy League prepared them well, right?) with 383 of them, they could staff an entire comprehensive high school and all of its feeder schools! And we could have an entire division of the school system running circles around the rest of the schools!!

    Oh, dear, there’s no evidence of anything like that.

    All we hear instead is a ‘giant sucking sound’ of all those millions of dollars leaving the public treasury and being spent on a relative handful of high-priced “experts” who don’t know anything useful. None of that money actually reaches anywhere near the classroom – except to inflict idiotic micromanagement-style mandates onto the teachers, backed up by the cudgel of NCLB and RTTT, that don’t help kids learn at all.

    • Yes. Those kinds of payscales are just one of the confusing formulas I’ve noticed in education, since making the switch from high-tech. There, a “we know better” attitude would not work. To build a computer program, you need a clear vision of what it will do, for example, “hold and manage interactive content.” like WordPress.
      I thought the clear vision of education was to teach children via an interaction between teachers and a students, but I was wrong.

  3. In February, I submitted a FOIA request to the Department of Education asking for the amount of money given to Newt Gingrich and Al Sharpton for their input on the Race to the Top trip with Arne Duncan. To date I have not received a reply and for obvious reasons. Making kids money cows is vile. Keep digging at least you know what BCG is getting.
    Walter Skipwith McMann


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