"Knowledge will forever govern ignorance

 and a people who mean to be their own governors

 must arm themselves with the power which knowledge gives."

Monday, July 25, 2005

Federal Funding For Education Soars, Results Don’t

How often have you heard that President Bush or the Republican Congress is shortchanging our children by not adequately funding education? Then maybe you’d be surprised to learn:

The entire education budget has ballooned during the president's time in office. The Department of Education's budget has grown by 82.5 percent in real terms from $34.9 billion in FY2001 to $63.7 billion in FY2005. This is the largest increase of any president since Lyndon Johnson.
All well and good you say, but I’ve heard the Republicans are cheating “blue states” and the education budget this year has been cut to pay for “tax cuts for the wealthy”. Just because Corzine and his fellow travelers say it, it doesn’t make it so:

President Bush's 2006 budget asks for more of the same. Every state sees an increase in grant money, nearly 5 percent on average. The average state receives a level of grant funding that is more than 50 percent higher than when President Bush took office; no state has an increase less than 35 percent.
Jon Corzine and others in the Democrat party have predicted doom and gloom for the country unless we invest more in education. Invest as we know in the “progressive” dictionary means increase taxes. But, do we need to “invest” more money to in order compete in the global economy?

According to OECD figures, the U.S. spends 78 percent more per student than Germany, 58 percent more than France, 31 percent more than Japan, and 71 percent more than the U.K. But despite these large spending differentials, American students perform no better than average on international comparisons of math and reading skills.
Property taxes have soared across the country and New Jersey holds the distinction for having the highest property taxes in the nation. The major cause:

From 1960 to 2000, inflation-adjusted spending on education in the U.S. nearly tripled, yet test scores show little improvement, dropout rates are high, and a large racial achievement gap persists.
The education industry has to be in a league of its own, producing less with more resources. Only a state subsidized industry could make such a claim:

Education economist Caroline Hoxby explains that public schools today are doing less with more: school productivity -- achievement per dollar spent -- declined by 55 to 73 percent from 1971 to 1999. Meanwhile, private and charter schools are boosting student achievement with lower expenditures per pupil than public schools. In other words, there is no consistent, systematic relationship between education spending and student outcomes.
Ken Adams has completed a statistical study on public school spending in New Jersey and finds no correlation between spending per pupil and student achievement in our state. New Jersey spends more per student than any other state and yet produces average results at best. Ken asks: How can we solve the differences in performance between schools? Here’s our answer:

Parents recognizing the correlation between educational attainment and achievement in life pass this message on to their children. Children learn directly from their parents whether or not to value education and studies show that when parents expect their children to do well in school, they do. People who value education and take advantage of educational opportunities earn more than those that don’t. No mystery here.

Now, what do we do about it? We ask the leaders of communities with parents and children that don’t value education to lead or get out of the way. We hold people accountable. Those schools producing results should maintain current levels of funding; those that don’t should lose funding until results are achieved. Schools still not producing should continue to lose funding until they hit the same average per pupil spending rate as non-Abbott schools.

More money and ever more expensive school facilities are not the answer. The education industry was used the more money “for the children” mantra to silence the average person through guilt, preventing most from saying enough is enough. Politicians have been happy to indulge this special interest group – the education industry - to buy votes and achieve political power.

Student performance directly tied to funding is the incentive needed to bring about the changes so desperately needed. Now who will step up to lead?


At 1:28 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

All that money and just think . . . the Constitution tells us that education is not a federal right. There has been plenty of case law on the matter. Most notably was San Antonio v. Rodriguez.

This was a school funding case. As the Court looked into the issues, it needed to determine whether or not education was a protected right. The Court determined that education is not a fundamental right. As such, it is not protected by the US Constitution. Of course, those rights not protected by the Constitution are passed to the states.

So, that the feds spend so much on education begs the question, Why?

Remember, when the feds dole out money to the states, there is slippage.

At 2:59 PM, Blogger The One True Tami said...

I am all for making education better across NJ, but I'm in favor of things like having less top-level administration, and having accountants working with administrators make budgets, rather than people with no financial backgrounds.

And on top of slippage, there are people just abusing the system. Often times money that should be spent on teaching kids is spent on things like travel expenses for teachers going to conferences. Not that the conference shouldn't be paid for, but there are stated limits that can be completely ignored if your boss never checks up on you.

When it comes down to it, almost all of NJ's problems could be made better by using more integrity. I think too many people turn a blind eye to abuses at all levels, and it's adding up like crazy.

At 6:02 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Site-based management is required by the Abbott rulings. That is legislating from the bench, no?

You'll enjoy, no dount, this document, which sets out how the NJ DOE implements it. It's been changed at least twice since, but the flavor is the same. SMTs are now SLCs.

Enlighten's piece is about the federal role in education. The ultimate issue is that the feds should have no role.


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