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  • Obama to Call for Washington-Built Schools in Thursday 'Jobs Speech'

    President Obama will likely call for more education spending in his jobs speech scheduled for Thursday, and it’s anticipated that he will make a pitch specifically for new federal funding for school construction. But federally financed school construction is problematic on constitutional and practical grounds.

    The U.S. Constitution does not mention the word education and certainly doesn’t permit Washington to fund the construction of schools, which have historically been, and should remain, under the direction of states and localities. In calling for federal funding for school construction—which has been rare and indirect—President Obama is once again exercising federal overreach in education.

    Practically speaking, the federal government is also the most inefficient mechanism for financing school construction. If Washington funds school construction, it must pay prevailing wages, which increase costs, on average, by 22 percent. Because of Davis–Bacon labor laws, schools that receive federal funding for school construction would typically have to hire union workers, increasing costs and preventing non-union construction companies from having a seat at the bidding table.

    For all of these reasons, school construction (and maintenance) should be undertaken by state and local governments—not by Washington. But Washington can play a role in removing some of the federal red tape that binds the hands of school leaders. If states and localities were given more control over education funding—the ability to, for example, opt-out of No Child Left Behind and target resources in a way that would be meet student needs—they could put funding toward projects that are pressing and important. And if school construction and maintenance is deemed important for a particular community, they could put resources toward improving or expanding school buildings.

    For their part, local schools also need to examine their own spending inefficiencies over the decades, particularly in the realm of personnel. Since the 1970s, student enrollment has increased just 7 percent in public schools. Over the same period, non-teaching staff grew by 83 percent. This explosion in non-teaching staff positions has resulted in no improvement for student achievement, but it has created a tremendous drain on state budgets.

    But beyond the immediate constitutional and practical concerns, is new federal spending on school buildings the best way to spend precious taxpayer resources? At a time when more and more states are moving away from the old “four-walls” model of schooling—away from brick-and-mortar buildings and toward virtual education—the Obama Administration wants to subsidize it. States are enacting incredibly exciting innovations in online learning, democratizing access to content and ensuring that students have access to quality teachers. The federal government is chronically behind the game, slow to innovate and unable to adapt to the changing technological landscape. This latest push for Washington-built schools is no exception.

    Federal spending on education has nearly tripled since the 1970s, with no increase in results to show for it. President Obama gifted the Department of Education nearly $100 billion through the stimulus in 2009, and just a year later, he signed a $10 billion public education bailout. According to a new poll by the journal Education Next, when asked “Do you think that taxes to fund public schools around the nation should increase, decrease or stay about the same?” just 35 percent supported increasing education spending. The same likely holds true for spending on school construction.

    Funneling more money through the dead hand of the federal government is not the answer to improving education, and that includes ill-advised school construction funding.


    Posted in Education, Featured [slideshow_deploy]

    16 Responses to Obama to Call for Washington-Built Schools in Thursday 'Jobs Speech'

    1. Excellent Article! The Constitution does not allow for Federal Funding for education, and it has been shown time and time again that the Federal government does not really help: let the states do their job!

    2. politiweb.net.ms says:

      very interesting. I might even cite you in an article on party politics I am writing

    3. PHILPOT says:


    4. West Texan says:

      Agreed. The national government has NO business involving themselves in affairs like education and healthcare. Such domestic matters are outside the federal's constitutional sovereignty. Any time I hear the term "social justice" from big government supporters, it reminds me of folks who use "good neighbor" and "family friendly" to maliciously trespass and pick your bones. We must all stand for what's right. Call for an end to the wasteful federal bureaucracies of education and health and human services.

    5. John Acord says:

      School construction? Why not investment in vocational education? An increasing number of school age children simply do no thave the mental abilities to proceed beyond high school and desperately need to be trained for vocational jobs. That, I believe, is where the investment should be made.

      • One Big Kidd says:

        Great point John. I also think they should teach a business course along side of the trades that will also teach these students that they can fend for themselves, their family and prosper in American buy owning their own business.

      • TimAz says:

        Why not vocational education? That would undermine the lefts attempt to render a majority of society dependent on government. How do you expect the left to crate a permanent voting base if Americans are allowed access to education that would give them the tools to provide for themselves through the fruits of their own labors? Especially an education absent of their socialist indoctrination.

    6. Rachelrao says:

      Are more schools going to help with the JOBS situation now? Schools have not helped so far. Schools have stopped "teaching" subjects that make you think and be smart, but are teaching you liberalism without morals, and the teachers are more interested in their pensions, their paychecks, and not in the students. How can Obama bring any more misery to this country……. too entrenched in his ideology. It is unbelievable what is happening to our country. It is time to privatize all infrastructure jobs (so that it does not take 10 years to build a memorial to the nation's tragedy), make construction companies competitive, and get the government out of the business of education, construction, and make the government's role smaller and the size of government. That education would benefit the country.

    7. alice phillips says:

      why build more schools he send his kids to private school, why can't we??????????

    8. WHICH WAY says:

      Close the dept of education and the cabinet position.

    9. Jeff says:

      In the 1980s my sister graduated from college and got her first teaching job, earning around $15,000 a year. Around that same time, my dad noticed a job for a janitor at his local U.S. Post Office that paid around $18,000 a year — a job that required no special training, let alone a college education. The irony of it all was obvious.

      Over the next twenty years my father saw the great growth of the education bureaucracy at the local school district office – located near his office. When he began work at that location in 1981, there were approximately 10 cars in the district's parking lot. By the time he retired 25 years later, the number of cars at the school district headquarters numbered near 100, while total student enrollment had increased only marginally. When my dad complained, he was told the driver for the growth in school district offices was due to increased federal regulations. The result was the that local taxpayers were spending more on education, but less money (percentage wise) was being spent on teachers.

    10. Bobbie says:

      I didn't need government to go to vocational school. No one else should!! that's where sincerity is! Why have government invest where there isn't GUARANTEED return WHEN USING MONEY THAT DOESN'T BELONG TO THEM??!!!!!

      Obama cried out loud (paraphrasing) "we have all these (infrastructure) jobs people are WAITING to get their hands dirty on?" well, Mr Obama when government is in the way, that's all people EVER do is WAIT!! You paint a convenient picture but you waste stimulus on jobs that you fail to complete! YOUR GOVERNMENT TEMP JOBS ARE A DISSERVICE TO MAKING A LIVING IN FREEDOM, IN AMERICA!!

      The private sector would have had it done and paid for WITHOUT THE WAIT!!! the president can learn decency and spend OUR MONEY ON ISSUES BEYOND OUR CONTROL!!!!! LIKE THEIR CONSTITUTIONAL DUTY!!!!!!!

    11. Paul says:

      I am beginning to believe that President Obama has never read the U.S. Constitution. Or if he has read it, that he did not understand it. Or if he understood it, that he does not believe in it. A disheartening conclusion no matter what.

    12. Better Schools says:

      Federal money and control is not the answer to our school problems. The best way for improving our educational system and training our children to meet the challenges we will face in the future is to get the Federal Government out of it. Let the States work with the families in their communities to build a better educational system for their citizens.

      Our schools will be better off if parents get more involved and the Federal Government gets out of the way.

    13. skipfoss says:

      Can you imagine what will be taught in a government schooland you nor I would have any say about what we beleive is wrong.It's bad enough that they teach our kids that you need to try to be homosexual or that your parents have no right to disipline you and if they do you can tell your teacher and she or he will have them arrested it is comming closer and closer for the government to control all of our lives,bullshit I will drop the first one that comes to my door with their government rules as to how I and my family are supposed to live,I fought three yearsof my life and nearly totally paralyzed in both legs

    14. Pete Houston says:

      I have a weld/machine shop and all the high schools in our area have eliminated the vocational training. They changed to computers courses. So we pay for kids to be in class and waste years of their life vs them learning a trade welding/machining/mechanical assembly. Starts them off at lower wages and less tax paying ability. The government and school system are inept at preparing young adults for the work force. Not everyone is going to be a doctor or a lawyer and we should realize we have all levels of capability and we need to capitalize on this variation vs some computerized learning crap that is probably fine for some, but not for the hands on workforce. If we want to still manufacture and produce products we need to train people to do just that.

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