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  • Lessons for Congress about Education Spending


    As Congress considered the unprecedented federal spending increase on education programs, Members should take the time to check out the American Legislative Exchange Council’s new Report Card on American Education. The report examines the condition of public schooling in the states and offers policymakers lessons from the experience of our laboratories of democracy. One key finding: simply spending more on education doesn’t guarantee better student outcomes.

    Former Education Secretary Bill Bennett summarized this point in a foreword to the report:

    The fact is that more dollars do not necessarily guarantee better schools. Some schools spend more and get lackluster results, while other schools with fewer funds and tools give children quality educations. In our country’s case, results are in the basement, while spending is through the roof. With education spending as the veritable black hole of state budgets, legislators should take heed. Per-pupil expenditures in 1983 were 56 percent less than they are today, but student performance has improved only slightly. Even those states placing in the top 10 of the ALEC Report Card – including number one – should pause before jumping for too much joy. Too many of their students are still below national proficiency levels in fourth- and eighth grade math and reading. High school results are just as grim.

    We reached a similar conclusion in our 2008 paper: Does Spending More on Education Improve Academic Achievement?

    Parents, taxpayers, and everyone concerned about the condition of our nation’s public schools should recognize the urgent need for serious reforms to get more out of the considerable dollars our nation spends on public education. If history is any guide, simply spending more alone isn’t the answer.

    Posted in Education [slideshow_deploy]

    21 Responses to Lessons for Congress about Education Spending

    1. Ozzy6900, CT says:

      Let me enlighten our Government about their Education Program. My youngest daughter spends an average of 90 days in preparation for these Academic or Mastery Tests. In other words, the students study to take a test. Most of these kids have never read the Constitution, know anything about the Revolution, have any idea what constitutes the making of law, not much about the Civil War and very little about WWI or WWII. But ask them about Global Warming and the Obama campaign, and they are all experts!

      My older children are college students who complain that their peers have very little background in the fundamentals of our Country and very few core beliefs. Basically, our children learn very little as compared with the 1950 & 1960 era students. It is no wonder that we are slipping into a dark hole. If you do not know where you came from (History), you will never know where you are going (aka the Left)!

    2. Spiritof76, New Hamp says:

      The figures did not indicate whether they are 2008 dollars or whether inflation was taken into account. Additionally, the performance deterioration since 1971 would be even starker in Math, science and writing.

      OECD (Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development) conducts tests for fifteen year olds every three years. In 2006, the US was placed 31st out of 57 countries in Math and 22nd in Science. The top finishing country, Finland spends one HALF of what the US spends per student.

      Education is not about students. It is about NEA and the bureaucrats using the kids as shield to enrich themselves.

    3. susan eyerly says:

      I have worked for an education service district for 13 yrs. We serve at-risk and special ed. high school students. Spending money on the state of repair of the buildings is certainly not the issue. We are in modules and must travel from one trailer to the other between classes. At times mold has been discovered in some classrooms and bathrooms. It has been dealt with appropriately.Our program, in Oregon, began in 1996, in an old downtown building. I recall entering the building at 7:am and setting out the free breakfasts. Many times I had company, large rats scurrying around the perimeter of the large-one school-room location. The ceiling leaked. The outcome of an investagation was that the rats that lived in the attic were releiving themselves onto our heads.Action was taken & we were moved into four (old-but usable) modules. I really don't believe that a nice new building is necessarily conducive to a positive learning environment.

    4. Richard, Texas says:

      As an educator in Texas, it is my opinion from experience that the problem in education is not necessarily the schools. The problem is that parents have relinquished their role in education and are depending on the education system to do all the work. It is up to us to teach not only the basics but also manners, morals, sex, responsibility, etc. Of course, no teacher worth their salt will ignore these areas, but a teacher should not be made to shoulder all the responsibilities of a parent. Most educators will do their job and do it well, seeing to it that students are given the greatest opportunity to succeed. Parents need to step up and take their proper role in the education process. That role is to actively help their kids do their schoolwork, be involved in the small details of their child's life, and not think of the education system as free babysitting. It is also true that throwing money at a problem is not the answer.

    5. Sliver, Wisconsin says:

      My son graduated from high school in 1987 and one of his shop teachers told him that one of these years liberals would ruin this country, well I guess we finally arrived. He is a strong conservative because of this teacher but those days are over for the most part, so now it's up to the parents to educate their children not indoctrinate them in the lies/agenda of the left.

    6. Mary Wood, TX says:

      Bravo Ozzy. Money is not the answer,instead,it usually corrupts.

    7. John Rosky Andover, says:

      If the congress thinks that more money is needed

      for schools they need to do it thru the normal process and send the money to the states.Congress cannot even handle the simplest of tasks, how do they think they know what every school in this country needs besides this money should not be in the PORK BILL.

    8. Sheila, Grayson, GA says:

      I recently retired from teaching to take care of family. We don't need to give more money to educational systems, but the educational systems need to spend more wisely the money they already receive. I saw waste over and over again; new programs tried for a while and then put on the shelves; liberal agendas taught instead of the basics. Sound like our federal government bailout plan? The liberal education elite will never change or quit; there are too many of them. This is especially true with a liberal government in power. The sooner Americans wise up and leave the systems and go to private systems or home schooling the better.

    9. duelles, Santa Fe, N says:

      Over, fifteen years ago, I removed my children from a 'good ' public school because the curriculum in English did not require diagramming sentences to learn parts of speech. And the school did not have Latin anymore.

      My parents live in a "Gold" town in VT. This means that the cost per pupil was high, ergo the town was wealthy. The truth was that it had a small enrollment and was required, mandated and forced to have all the facilities and counselors and administrators of a much larger school district. Of course the total cost can be spread over more students and bring down the cost per pupil.

      Headmasters or principals have lost control of their budgets to central authorities with mandated programs. Equality is lost when unequal school districts must.

      susan eyerly, my heart goes out to you and your efforts to provide quality for those who need it. I know several social wokers and psycologists whose jobs are more than I could ever handle. Funding is needed to fullfil aspects of the basic educational mandate – the three R's, but much is wasted and misused intentionally and unintentionally by stupid mandates.

    10. John Clancy says:

      Isn't it amazing that we as taxpayers have observed for over 50 yrs. now that our government schools don't work? Let's grant that it's not the teachers who fail us so much as the system that prompts parents to relinquish their part in the process. STATES should provide tax-credits to parents to empower them to choose, to become the first and fundamental educators.

    11. Dolores, Sparks, NV says:

      The Democrats are wanting everyone to support this so-called stimulus bill without letting the people know what is in it. Pushing this stimulus bill through saying it is an emergency so they can push everyone to pass it before they have time to find out what is in it. Then if things go wrong, they can come back and say, "We'll you voted for it too"! They are always blaming the Republicans for everything they were involved in. The Republicans warned the Democrats for many years about Fanny Mae and Freddie Mac and good old Barney Franck. How does he ever get re-elected? Who is he paying off to keep him in the Senate?

      1. I think Pelosi and Reid wrote the plan themselves paying back all the unions and people that helped them and others win getting more Democrats taken over seats from the Republicans. I think Obama and his cabinet should have been the ones to put everything in the bills, as well as both sides of the isle with everyone putting in their suggestions. Pelosi and Reid only want things that aren't for the benefit of the people. They have long forgotten who they work for and are the greediest hypocrites I've ever seen.

      2. No one is telling the public what is in the bill – everything in the bill – not just pick out items that they think everyone will be for it. And not telling us what all is in bill that we are not going to want in it. The whole bill or an abbreviated summary of the bill should be published for everyone to see exactly what they are trying to push down our throats.

      3. No one is letting the public know what the pork is when the Republicans are telling the DNC that they said they weren't going to have any pork in the bill and they are lying. Paying for insurance for bees, fixing the lawns for, I don't remember where it was for. Senator Schumer from New York says we don’t care about the pork in the bills. Yes, we are. If the people are told that the pork has been added to the bill, how can they be upset about it. I’ve been so upset that I keep having a nervous stomach ache being so mad about what they are trying to do to our country. I would just love to be on the Senate floor and ball everyone out for their selfish, self-interest, crooked things they have done. Then Schumer says that it is so tiny that it isn’t important. It is a huge amount and any spending on any pork items that aren’t important in this time of crisis should not get a penny for it. Even that is too much when there is so many important things that they should be putting in the stimulus bill.

      4. Having non-secret ballots for unionizing so everyone would know who voted for it and who voted against it. That gives the unions a leg up on getting the unions into that company. If they really wanted to be fair, they would keep ballots secret. The unions know that it would make people vote for the union when they really don’t want it. They aren’t stupid and think we are. They don't want that. Unions destroy business. All of the auto companies that are in trouble have unions that are strangling the companies. The auto companies that don't have unions are doing just fine. And that happens to be the foreign car companies. The unions will probably attach those companies trying to get unions in there and then they will be in trouble. Unions are greedy and donate money to candidates that the union workers don't know where their money is going. The unions have too much money to lobby government for higher wages and help in getting into companies.

      5. Japan tried the same thing Obama is trying and it didn't work.

      6. Why are they so mad at Rush and Hannidy, is it because they tell the truth about what is happening and they don't want the people to know the truth. That is why they are trying to push this through before more people don't find out exactly what is in the bill.

      7. The Republicans should have been able to put in requests for what should have been in the bill also. The Democrats prevented them from philbustering to prevent this spending bill from getting through and when the 3 Republicans were given something for their state, they caved in and voted for it. Then Pelosi went back and put things back in that they had agreed to with the 3 Republicans were to be out. That is going against their word. They should have turned around the changed their vote.

      8. There should be discussion on the floor on the bill.

      9. Each part of the bill should be in a separate section and each section should be voted on. This way, some of the most contested items could be line-itemed deleting. And not change it after both sides have agreed upon it.

      10. There should be re-training of people that don't have jobs to get a job that is in demand. Training the people that have never worked Some people have no idea how to act in an office to be marketable. Training should be number 1 to get people back to work.

      11. The press conference Obama had yesterday the press was complaining that Obama didn't say anything about what was actually in the bill. Only Fox News has let us know some of the parts they are against but only us watching them know it because no other news media is telling the people anything. As the time passes, more and more people are finding out and the amount for the bill keeps going down.

      12. All of the elected offices should be told to get their taxes in order or they will be audited. They should have to follow the same laws we must live by. They need to pay their taxes, interest and PENALTIES. I DON'T THINK THE ONES THAT PAID THERES LATE, HAD TO PAY THE PENALTIES. THEY SHOULD HAVE TO PAY PARKING TICKETS AND NOT BE ALLOWED TO BOUNCE CHECKS ALL OF THE TIME EITHER WITHOUT PENALTIES.

      13. All elected officials in Congress, Senate, Assembly, etc. should take a pay cut like a % reduction. That would help pay for this huge boondoggle. California Governor is doing that for his office and making other offices do the same and other government employees are having to take a pay cut plus take a couple of days a month not work and not get paid for it.

      14. They should not give free money to people who want to get a loan because all of the other people paid full price when they bought their house. Have them pay a lower interest rate but that would really be fair either for people who lived within their means and others didn't. Those who lost their jobs and lost their house, they should be the first to get food stamps, welfare, etc. but anyone on welfare should be made to, if they don't have a job, take classes to get another job, or do neighborhood cleanup or someone else to help the community so these people have to work or go to school to get a check.

      15. Having kids out of wedlock by many different fathers should not be able to get more money each time they have another kid. They should be taking birth control pills free or use condoms if they can't use birth control. Or get an IUD free. To remain on welfare, they would be required to take some kind of birth control or no check.

    12. Frustrated Parent/Ed says:

      Students who do their homework (and don't copy it) and are attentive and respectful in class rarely fail. Unfortunately, this type of student is increasingly rare. Perhaps we need to motivate students and parents by linking these easy to achieve behaviors with public entitlements like welfare and tax credits. (If bankers' salaries can be affected if they get bailouts, it would be hypocritical not to be able to tie student behavior to public funding as well.) I suspect we will get a nation of learners with lower per student funding with this one easy motivator. It is tragic that we no longer have many parents who value education or understand "tough love" without external motivation today.

    13. richard voinov, cali says:

      I am a retired teacher /counselor with 32 years of experience.

      Th one missing component in the mix has always been

      the parent that is not educationally motivated. I could write a book about what I saw during home visits_ drinking parents or worse yet drug use, grown men playing computer games while a student is trying to study, keeping childen home (out of school) for no apparent reason or frequent tardies an showing up after reading or math had already taken place I can recall the many times I saw a child walking to school eating a bag of chitos and drinking a coke because some parent did not provide a proper breakfast. Now I ask you, if you were a classroom teacher how would you fix the problem?

    14. Ruth, Big Rapids, MI says:

      Amen, Ozzy! My son graduated in 1994, and I had to take a hand in supplementing his general knowledge or he would have been severely lacking. I taught him some history, i.e. the Civil War, Spanish American War, WWI and WWII. When he brought home corrected English papers, I sometimes sent them back with more corrections. I'm a product of 1950s public school education and can see that as less was taught in the public schools every year, the deficit snowballed. Teachers who were taught less as students taught even less as teachers. It's no wonder that our local newspaper is illiterate and that history is repeating itself to our detriment. If you don't know history, how can you avoid making the same mistakes?

    15. Barb -mn says:

      Good one to you also, Ruth. This ugly state claims $11000.00 per student! Some students cost more then others. It's a deceiving average. Eleven thousand dollars of hard earned income indoctrinating our children. We deserve receipts per child if they are going to report it as "$11000 per student." We do spend time to teach our child FACTS. Unfortunately government has our child for 7 hours while we may have 1 hour of quality time. This is outrageous that public schools cost more then private. Since we're forced to pay for government schools we are unable to afford private school. Private schools teach VALUES. unlike government schools that takes them away.

    16. Lisa says:

      Money is not the answer. The whole system needs to be scrapped. If I were in charge I would privatize education. Give parents the money and let them choose what school they send their children to. Let the schools compete for your business. If I were given the per child dollars to educate my homeschooled child, I would be able to give her a world class education (to include museums, road trips, art, dance classes and so on) and save enough money to send her to any college she wanted to attend. I have spent a whopping 100.00 to teach my daughter to read, thanks of course to the library and my (ahem) library fines.

      I recently had a 17 year old foster child who was special ed. he has an IQ of about 6 years old. He is completely illeterate, yet he got an "A" in reading. I was blown away, how could this be? Then I looked at his IEP…. his reading curriculum was learning to read signs. wow. And yet our school district screams and yells that they don't have enough money for special ed. They aren't even trying to teach as it is.

      Not to mention that the quality of teachers is degrading at an alarming rate. Just last week a teacher was arrested for drug possession, after they searched his computer they found child porn.

      Remember who is teaching the teachers, Education Experts like Bill Ayers.

    17. ANDREW, OHIO says:


    18. Phillip Texas says:

      Over the years I have noticed a very disturbing thing happening in our education system,children are no longer required to take math,science,history the basic fundamental classes that make up the back bone of our great country, its heritage ,the foundation of freedom and, what the constituion is all about. In todays schools you can get credit for going to study hall,taking a class in kite making etc.It's sadly become more about the money and less about the education, when a child is lazy they send that child to special ed class because there's always more money there and its easier for the scol to let the child slide thru the system,check out how much each school superintendant makes and how much each principle and asst. principle make , and how many there are in each district it does not make sense,how much time is actually spent teaching (indoctrinating). How much time do the teachers actually spend at there job each year verus the private sector.And also why is a teacher who is a public employee paid with our tax money allowed to be represented by a union isn't that conflict of interest. Just follow the money who gets the biggest contributions from the NEA ,onc again just follow the money and who suffers the children and the future of America these will be our future leaders and what will they KNOW.

    19. Marilyn, PA says:

      In my area parents the choice between public and religious schools that are somewhat equal in their ability to educate our children. There are so many factors that affect education that a simply solution just won't work. Obama has said that merit pay for teachers will improve education but I feel that it would cause all sorts of problems. (Part of my job is to get teachers to work together to devise strategies to help students that are having significant difficulties.) What will happen when teachers must compete for pay? Obama thinks that will improve education but I think that it will actually cause the reverse since teachers will not be as willing to help each other. I don't understand how merit pay for teachers will improve student attendance which is a major problem or improve the quality of life of students. We deal every day with students that aren't fed or nutured at home. I wish most people could see how much teachers do care and work to help their students. They are often working under difficult situations and long hours. Spouses of teachers know that a teacher's day is not done when they have put the last student on the bus.

      Students do not come to school equally prepared but teachers often have to work with a program that assumes students learn at the same pace. A one size fits all cure won't be the solution. The needs of an inner city school is far different than the rural schools in my area but we all have the same rules. Kind of silly isn't it. Finding effective solutions will not come from a slogan but it will take real effect to recognize what is wrong in education and what to do to fix it.

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