I am still talking to Black Conservatives across Michigan about educational reform here in the state. I keep reminding them that we are responsible for creating innovative ways to educate our children. We are responsible for transforming the educational process.
Since the Democrats have taken control of Congress on a federal level how man people are aware that the federal government spends more than $66 billion on K–12 education: more than $1,400 for every public school student in the United States. This $66 billion is channeled through dozens of government agencies and hundreds of programs, but parents have little or no control over how their child’s share of federal education funding is spent.
This is problematic. Especially for parents who live in the hood.
Parental choice in education represents the ultimate form of accountability to parents. To bring this home Democrats should reform federal education programs to give parents control over how their child’s share of federal education funding is used.
The federal government runs more than a hundred K–12 education programs. Congress should support program eliminations and consolidations under the President’s FY 2007 budget. It should also concentrate federal funds on the disadvantaged students for whom federal education programs were originally intended and give states the opportunity to consolidate programs and use existing federal education funding for student-focused grants.
The Heritage Foundation has also pointed out the following:
- Dispel the myth that federal education spending leads to improved educational achievement and freeze the growth in education spending. If President Bush’s FY 2007 budget proposal is approved, education funding for programs under No Child Left Behind will have increased 40 percent ($17.3 billion to $24.4 billion) since he took office. Some have called for even more spending on federal education programs. However, lack of money is not the problem. Over the past three decades, per-pupil education spending has doubled as test scores have remained stagnant.
The federal government has a limited ability to improve schools across the nation. Rather than increasing spending, the federal government should increase the efficiency of its existing education programs. The current education system wastes resources: As much as 40 cents on the dollar may be lost between Washington and the classroom. The solution is to make sure that more dollars reach the classroom by streamlining federal education programs and giving parents rather than bureaucrats control of education resources.
- Federal education funding increased tenfold between 1965 and 2001 and has more than doubled since 1990.
- Despite 35 years of federal intervention, results from the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) show that a distinct gap persists between students who are eligible for the free- and reduced-priced lunch program and other students.
- Spending per student has nearly doubled in the past 30 years, but test scores have seen no significant improvement.
- American 8th graders ranked 19th out of 38 countries on the most recent international mathematics comparison and 18th in science. On the Third International Mathematics and Science Study (1995), which tested 12th graders, American students were ranked 19th out of 21 countries in both math and science general knowledge.
- While less than three-quarters of white students graduate from high school, only half of America’s black and Hispanic students graduate.
- During the 2002 school year, the average pupil-to-teacher ratio nationwide was 16 to 1, and the average class size was 22 students.
- The pupil-to-teacher ratio in public schools decreased from 22.3 pupils per teacher in 1970 to 16.1 pupils per teacher in 1999.
- By dividing the average student NAEP achievement scores by per-pupil spending data, researchers found that between 1970–1971 and 1998–1999, school productivity "fell by between 55 and 73 percent, depending on skill and age cohort tested." If "schools today were as productive as they were in 1970–71, the average 17-year-old would have a score that fewer than 5 percent of 17-year-olds currently attain."
- Publicly funded vouchers cost state and local governments less than the average per-pupil expenditures in areas where students are served by vouchers.
- Teachers earn more per hour than employees in fields with similar educational and credentialing requirements. The Bureau of Labor Statistics’ National Compensation Survey calculated that the average hourly wage in this category of employment was $27.49 in 2000. "The average earnings for all three categories of teachers exceeded the average for all professional workers."
- Girls outscore boys in reading, writing, civics, and the arts. On the 2004 NAEP long-term trend reading assessment, girls outperformed boys on average scores in all three age groups (9, 13, and 17 years). By the 12th grade, the average score for girls was 24 points higher.