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  • FACT CHECK: Secretary Arne Duncan on Education Cuts

    During remarks to attendees in Charlotte last week, Education Secretary Arne Duncan claimed that the budget passed by the House of Representatives would mean “fewer teachers in the classroom, fewer resources for poor kids and students with disabilities, [and] fewer after school programs.”

    However, the House budget does not designate specific cuts to K-12 education programs; it simply calls for reductions in non-defense discretionary spending over the next decade. Duncan, as he did in testimony earlier this year, is using unspecified spending reductions suggested in the budget to assume reductions in specific education programs—something the budget proposal does not do.

    But even if federal education spending were to be cut by 20 percent—a goal worth pursuing—would that mean fewer teachers, fewer resources for poor and disabled students, and fewer after-school programs, as Duncan suggests?

    Since the 1970s, federal per-pupil expenditures have more than doubled (after adjusting for inflation). Those increases haven’t all gone to the classroom or toward teacher salaries. Much of that money has gone toward expanding bureaucracy and non-teaching administrative positions in our nation’s public schools.

    From 1970 to 2010, student enrollment increased a modest 7.8 percent, while the number of non-teaching staff positions increased 138 percent. But the number of teachers has also been increasing steadily over the decades.

    In fact, if preliminary data from the National Center for Education Statistics is accurate, the student-teacher ratio in our nation’s public schools, at 15.2 to 1, will be lower this year than at any other point in history. Since 1970, the number of public school teachers increased 60 percent, while the number of students increased by only about 7 percent.

    Duncan also claimed in his remarks that “10 million students could see their Pell Grants reduced, putting higher education further out of reach.”

    What has put higher education “further out of reach” is ever-escalating college costs, which federal subsidies have exacerbated over the years. The House-approved budget aims to better target Pell funding to the low-income students it was originally designed to help while limiting the growth of the grants.

    There is ample room to trim bureaucracy at the Department of Education. And it would be bad policy to continue blindly increasing federal education spending. The Obama Administration has been on an education spending binge for the past three and a half years: a nearly $100 billion bonus to the department in 2009 through the “stimulus,” a $10 billion public education bailout the year after that, and now a proposed $70 billion education budget (up from $68 billion) with $60 billion in supplemental spending.

    Taxpayers cannot afford to continue financing the federal government’s failed experiment in education intervention. Like most federal policy areas, some fiscal restraint is needed in education spending. A better approach would be to give states more control of their share of federal education funding and allow for flexibility. Schools would get far more bang for their bucks with flexibility than by continuing to filter money through 150 bureaucratic federal education programs.

    Posted in Education, Featured [slideshow_deploy]

    10 Responses to FACT CHECK: Secretary Arne Duncan on Education Cuts

    1. Bobbie says:

      Isn't this the exact reason we don't want government control and government unions involved with our children's education? The President said it was the "duty" of the government to educate, yet they have a "right to walk out" on that duty anytime they don't get their way? Effect the livelihoods of our children, parents, the economy?? Because of greed? It's ridiculous that those who are paid with tax dollars aren't the first to sacrifice since the budgeting and managing of our hard earned money is beyond our reach and not within our control but we have to cover the costs of consequences of the doings of others we're forced to trust when we can't? While they exploit children as leverage? They have this false impression they're worth is greater than those that pay them or the children left to be taught by them? This is outrageous and extreme! You never hear this in the schools that fulfill their duty to graduate children!!!! Get rid of the controls in government, unions and employees! They're more work and cost in various ways! We expect better! Better attitudes, better teachers.

      These are the exact people America does not deserve to be educated by!!! America deserves much higher level of education by people who want to teach, not utilize their tax paid time fighting for unearned, unaffordable benefits, determined by people who don't pay. How dare they get a penny of a raise at their salaries and at the expense of children!

      There should be no question on performance/evaluation reviews. Those who oppose know they don't deserve what they're getting and cowards to hide themselves behind union protection. Sounds like an ethics standard democrats aren't held to and this is what we get for our money???

      Get the control of government and their union thugs and sheep OUT! They're selfish and destructive in many ways!! Oh but don't worry, free breakfast and lunch is always available where your parents are neglectful. Wonder how much this monopoly really makes off America…

      • Delijdewolfe says:

        Bobbie, What kind of control do you believe teacher unions, and employees actually have in matters of public education or educational curriculum? I agree that if a teacher does not perform well, there employment should be evaluated, but I disagree that it's as cut and dry as the teacher isn't doing there job correctly. There's a lot of school board bureaucracy and red tape to go around that could stifle any teachers performance.

        Please correct me if I'm wrong – it sounds to me as if you're advocating privatization of public schools. Which means that the only way a child could get a decent education is if the parents could afford it. Is that what you're suggesting?

        Additionally, if you believe that free breakfast and lunch shouldn't be allowed in schools, how exactly should should these children eat if the parents can't afford it? I'm not being facetious, I'm only asking if you know of a REALISTIC alternative solution?

    2. EriK says:

      Duncan is a hack. Did Chicago schools improve at all when he was there?

    3. Rono44o says:

      I am disappointed that Heritage is calling only for "fiscal restraint" at the Dept. Of Education. Since the Constitution gives no authority at all in the area of education to the federal government, let's work to phase out the department over a limited number of years. Why is there such a thing as "federal dollars for eduation" in the first place? Leave those dollars in the states for them to collect (or not) as they see fit.

    4. Pat Murray says:

      Lindsey, you are the light shining through the complete darkness of media coverage on this administration's education policies. I can't believe state representatives and governors are not calling special sessions to deal with the obvious federal intrusion and confiscation of discretionary spending at both the state and local levels. The latest round of Race to the Top for Common Core State Standards directed at individual school districts is an example. Please keep up the great job of exposing the truth.

    5. Jeanne Stotler says:

      Exagerating and outright lies are the trade mark of this administration, instilling fear as a means to control is not new BUT in the long run usually loses out as people wake up and realize that they've been lied to, Now is the time, Americans to WAKE UP, this is OUR Goverment for us, by us, not like some want you to believe, WE ARE THE GOVERMENT, not the President or members of Congress, lets takeour country back and VOTE Nov. 6th.

    6. Bobbie says:

      How about no cuts to the kids ANYWHERE and all cuts in salaries, pensions and benefits? How about pricing the class and not the children? It's like the first thing the union government goons greed goes is cuts to the kids which grown practical adults who really want to teach, wouldn't even consider. Disabled kids on top of it. Surely the big adults can do something to protect the high standard education needs of America's youth?! This might help weed the dangerously opinionated teachers out of the classroom that we the people do not hire or want in the school systems and drive the good teachers where they make a positive difference and are appreciated and respected. In private/parochial schools where the quality of the person who takes the title teacher, matters. Of course, home schooling is much more efficient with much higher standards and proficiency. It's a little embarrassing having the kids witness overpaid teachers who don't respect the English language, using kids for leverage while the kids are none the wiser no thanks to teachers bailing out on their duty to the kids and society, for total selfishness. Actually, maybe more the wiser… witness the failures of government control! The "government" who wants everyone dependent on them when government shows countless reasons government control can't be depended on.

      Where's the sacrifice, Arne? What kind of government would even allow strikes in essential areas? Not American government!!!

    7. Joseph Nickele says:

      There are 208 countries on this planet, if you count all the island nations, etc. Of those, the USA spends more on education per student than all but one. (Switzerland edged us out of 1st place.) For all that money, we get high school and even (liberal arts) college graduates–and many grade school teachers–who never memorized multiplication tables in the third grade and are forever challenged by grade school arithmetic. We get history curricula, written by "professional educators" who know little or nothing about history. Start with the Dep't. of education: they educate NOBODY. Abolish the whole department and fire all of its employees!

    8. Lloyd Scallan says:

      Obama led administration will never give up control. If Obama allows states to make their own education policies, it would be in direct violation of his socialist agenda. So Obama trouts out another of his lackeys to look into the camera a lie to the American people. Isn't it about time we all understand that lying is a way of life for Obama and his team?

    9. guest says:

      Most of these teachers on strike do not care what happens to our children. What about the teachers whose only choice is to work part time and supplement their income by working another part time job elsewhere. Why not give these teachers a chance. Get rid of Lewis and why should her pockets be lined with money that really should go to our children. These union teachers have no right to strike because our children are the ones to suffer.

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