As reported by the estimable Just Facts, federal, state, and local governments in the U.S. spent $1.02 trillion on education in 2019. This breaks down to $7,945 for every household in the country. It’s worth noting that these figures do not include land that is purchased for schools and other facilities, some of the costs of durable items like buildings and computers, and unfunded liabilities of post-employment non-pension benefits (health insurance e.g.). Here in California, when all costs are considered, the state spends over $20,000 per pupil.
But for Joe Biden, a trillion isn’t nearly enough. In March the President, or whoever is handling him these days, rolled out a $1.9 trillion “federal relief package” which includes $126 billion for schools. What the teachers unions and its allies in the media call an “investment” is really nothing more than the ongoing pillaging of taxpaying Americans who are already facing debt of gargantuan proportions.
Then last week, Biden piled on with the American Family Plan, a $1.8 trillion giveaway which includes $554 billion for education – payments in-full for community college and preschool, to address the (alleged) “growing teacher shortage,” and a host of other “investments” – a word that appears in some form 58 times in the plan’s fact sheet.
While educrats drool, many with a firm grip on reality are horrified at the government’s tax antics. As policy writer Brad Polumbo points out, tuition at the average community college for an in-district student is just $3,770. “But it’s even less than that for students who qualify for existing grants and financial aid, which cover nearly all the expenses.” Polumbo goes on to say that the majority of students of who attend community college end up dropping out, and research has shown that those students who actually pay for their own schooling tend to work harder and get better grades.
The value of preschool is another great hype perpetrated on the American public. Sure, it sounds good, but is it effective? In a word, no. Study after study has shown it to be an extraordinary waste of money. Notably, the U.S. has a 55-year history of funding early-childhood programs in the form of Head Start. In 2012, the federal government released the last of a three-part longitudinal study of the $9 billion-a-year program, and the results offered little cause for celebration. According to the report’s executive summary, “…there was little evidence of systematic differences in children’s elementary school experiences through 3rd grade, between children provided access to Head Start and their counterparts in the control group.” The report also reinforced some disappointing findings from the study’s second phase, which showed that any gains “had faded considerably by the end of 1st grade, with Head Start children showing an edge only in learning vocabulary over their peers in the control group who had not participated in Head Start.”
Then there is the perpetual “teacher shortage” myth, which ranks high in the “Chicken Little” hysteria pantheon – on a par with the Salem Witch trials, Y2K, and the population bomb. As veteran policy analysts Ben Scafidi and Robert Maranto reveal, the number of public school students rose 23 percent, between 1990 and 2018, but the number of teachers increased by 32 percent. They also report that from 1950 to 2006, the ratio of students to staff fell from 19.3 students per staffer to a mere 8 to 1. Mike Antonucci adds that evidence suggests COVID-19 has had little effect on teacher job retention.
As Center for Education Reform CEO Jeanne Allen accurately notes, more federal funding won’t solve the biggest issue facing teachers, “which is a lack of autonomy, rewards, and professionalism that force them into a system where there’s little incentive to perform better, no reward for investing more time, and no ability to craft one’s own position or to be paid for one’s expertise.”
It gets worse. Joe Biden wants to use American’s tax dollars to promote the “1619 Project.” This agenda-driven fantasy maintains that one of the primary reasons the colonists revolted against England was to preserve the institution of slavery. However, this was a bridge too far even for Nikole Hannah-Jones, the creator of the fraud, who now claims that she meant to say “some of” the colonists fought to preserve slavery, not all of them. Additionally, the feds want public school kids to learn about the ravings of race hustler Ibram X. Kendi, who claims that “White terror is as American as the Stars and Stripes,” that our nation has been “sort of structured around racial identity, racism, and even white supremacy,” and that “the only remedy to racist discrimination is antiracist discrimination.”
American Federation of Teachers president Randi Weingarten is very happy with the government’s out-of-control spending, chortling, “Every person in America deserves the freedom to thrive. That requires family-supporting jobs, rights at work, educational opportunities, a voice in our democracy and pathways to get ahead. A vibrant middle class must not be a thing of the past. This robust economic agenda will help rebuild it for the future.”
Obviously, the union boss badly needs an economics lesson. Our federal debt is $28 trillion or $85,000 per every man, woman and child in the U.S. This is hardly a “robust economic agenda,” but rather another step down the road to serfdom.
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Larry Sand, a former classroom teacher, is the president of the non-profit California Teachers Empowerment Network – a non-partisan, non-political group dedicated to providing teachers and the general public with reliable and balanced information about professional affiliations and positions on educational issues. The views presented here are strictly his own.