Are our school districts/systems, run by educated education professionals, spending your money wisely? Has the U.S. Department of Education had a positive impact on our kids? Has too much money gone to support the teachers’ unions’ demands, and bigger government; has too little information gone into the area between the ears of our kids? You be the judge.
Many thanks to the brilliant folks at the Cato Institute for the work they have done on so many important issues. This work was done by Andrew J. Coulson and the complete Cato article can be found at President to Call for Big New Ed. Spending Here’s a Look at How that’s Worked in the Past. Charts republished with the permission of the Cato Institute.
Let’s start with the U.S. Department of Education, elevated from the Office of Education in 1979. The Department’s website states “The Department’s mission is to serve America’s students— to by fostering educational excellence and ensuring equal access.” How is this working for you?
It has a $67 Billion budget, over 4,000 employees and distributes another $100 Billion in education support. By the way, this $167 Billion is derived from tax revenue taken from tax payers in the fifty states and territories. If this money is left in the states, the states can then collect and use this money as they see fit and not as directed by educators with a progressive bent on how our children should learn. There are almost 60 million students enrolled in K-12 education in this country. The elimination of the Department of Education’s operating budget would ensure another $1,100 per student in education funding. Would you contribute to a charity that had a 40% overhead rate as does the Department of Education? How much of your district’s budget is spent on U.S. Department of Education compliance? Add these compliance expenses to the overhead and the amount freed up for students climbs even higher.
The states do not need the U.S. Department of Education; the states’ PhD’s are just as smart as the PhD’s at the Department of Education. The department has miserably failed its mission because we have an abysmal return on our Federal investment and a relatively zero increase in student achievement and preparation for global competitiveness, as is the mission since 1979. There is no education excellence in our children. We need to shut it down and despite numerous tweaks by Congress it is an abject failure and a gargantuan waste of money.
Is money the answer in itself – No! Much of the money provided to the students has gone to support the teacher unions’ contracts. We cannot remove a bad teacher, we cannot improve work rules, and the unions even call the shots on how our children are prepared for the future. Unless you consider socialist propaganda prepared, they are simply not prepared for the future. We are not making widgets here; these children are the nation’s greatest resource. They are not a cog in the wheel of a union contract. The unions have benefited financially from favorable union contracts; have the children benefited? If you think so, look at the charts again. Are there good teachers? Yes of course. Are these good teachers allowed to innovate, no!
Stop throwing money at the problem and change the paradigm. We need to focus heavily on English, Math, Sciences, History, and Social Studies above all else. Yes art and music and others have their place, but the Titanic is sinking, so let’s not rearrange the deck chairs. First we need a good hard look at the content of the books and then we need to actually teach our kids that passing or failing is important in life. The real world requires critical thinking skills and believe it or not in non-government or non-academic careers success matters, so why not truly prepare our kids for the future.
Parents who care need to pressure their school boards to become totally transparent. Put all budgets and salaries online. Put the progress of each class online. We need to measure our teachers by testing their classes at the start of the semester/school year and then again at the end of the semester/school year to judge whether the teacher has adequately promoted student achievement and preparation for global competitiveness. Since our children are important and our future lifeblood, we need to compensate our teachers based on quality control. If they actually deliver student achievement and prepare these kids for the global economy – pay them well. General Electric became very successful after Jack Welch instituted a policy that each year the bottom 10% of managers were let go and replaced by new hires – remember this is the real world. Why shouldn’t this real world accountability be applied to those entrusted to prepare our to children succeed for themselves and for this country?