Buying Bulk

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I buy bulk.

Toilet paper? 900 rolls. Cheese? 30 pound blocks. I used to get my mustard by the barrel. But my wife told me that it wasn't worth the frustration refilling the human-sized bottles and the requisite third fridge. I still buy the jumbo-huge-extra-value-family-sized jar of pickles though. It's the little victories...

Why buy such huge quantities?

Because mustard is half the price per unit if you get sixty gallons of it instead of a single 20oz bottle. That's why.

The question then is: Why doesn't "buying bulk" work when it comes to human care?

Jessica mentioned yesterday that the cost of child care is such that she can't afford to work. And I get depressed every time I think about the real cost of public schools. What's going on here?

Buying bulk works the same way getting married helps your budget. When you're single, you and your future spouse are paying for two residences, two beds, two internet connections and you're preparing two meals, doing two loads of laundry and generally duplicating everything. Getting married slashes the cost of one of you to a third. That's big savings. Have a friend move in with you? The savings get even bigger!

So, by the same logic, if you can get one teacher to watch 30 kids, we're saving a ton of money.

But we're not.

Public middle schools cost as much as my private University tuition (which included my room and board). And the reason my private University tuition was so astronomically high was because it wasn't super large (no bulk discount) and had no Federal funding. Of course, Federal funding isn't helping classrooms anyway.

One reason we're not getting a "bulk discount" from public schools is that there isn't really anything "bulk" going on. There isn't one teacher per 30 students. There are guidance counselors, nurses, assistant principals, principals, a board of education, and so on. There are buses and playgrounds, classrooms and cafeterias, soccer fields and stadiums. And, similar to you and your spouse prior to marriage, the families of these students still have houses and kitchens, parks and playgrounds, cars and bedrooms, doctors and pastors. In many ways, we're duplicating everything (and more).

This post is not about how public schools are bad. This post is about how (and an exploration of the why) public schools are so expensive. Given what the government spends on other kids, you could buy a Sonlight Core for each of your four students and make almost six figures using them.

So the question to ponder now is: How do we get people to start homeschooling in bulk?

 ~Luke Holzmann
Filmmaker, Writer, Empty Nester

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