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Tuesday, July 26, 2005

Federal Involvement in Public Education

I have never been a fan of the federal government's involvement in public education. I believe that such things are best handled at the most local level possible. Actually, I believe that education should be handled privately, but since we live in a nanny state, that is not likely to happen. So given that, we should at least be nannied as locally as possible. The local community is certainly better in tune with its children's educational needs than a bunch of career bureaucrats in D.C.

Unfortunately, Uncle Sam didn't see it that way back in 1953. At that time, the country was still awash in putrid movement of the previous two decades to expand federal power beyond anything that even closely resembled constitutional restraint. Government was the answer to all that ailed you. So with such widespread sentiment, Eisenhower brought into existence the Department of Health, Education, and Welfare.

Over the course of the next few decades, the guys and gals in D.C. became ever more involved in the social engineering of public schools. By 1979, that meddling became so pervasive that it was determined that it was time for the Department of Education to strike out on its own as an independent bureaucracy.

Both Democrats and Republicans alike, have continued to bloat the DoE's budget and meddling. I remember back in the 90s when many Republicans actually called for the elimination of the DoE. In fact, as this article points out, it was once even a part of the GOP platform:
The GOP platform was clear: "The Federal government has no constitutional authority to be involved in school curricula or to control jobs in the market place. This is why we will abolish the Department of Education."

Alas, that was when they had no power. Now they are "compassionate" conservatives and free spenders.
Whenever he can, President Bush touts the huge spending increases necessary to promote his No Child Left Behind Act (NCLB). But it's not just NCLB funding that has increased: the entire education budget has ballooned during the president's time in office. The Department of Education's budget has grown by 82.5 percent in real terms from $34.9 billion in FY2001 to $63.7 billion in FY2005. This is the largest increase of any president since Lyndon Johnson.

And President Bush's 2006 budget asks for more of the same. Every state sees an increase in grant money, nearly 5 percent on average. The average state receives a level of grant funding that is more than 50 percent higher than when President Bush took office; no state has an increase less than 35 percent.

But don't get confused into thinking that almost doubling federal spending on education is enough. Even with such huge increases in spending, there are constant calls for more:
In spite of the GOP's extravagance, Democrats constantly criticize the Administration for not spending enough. During the presidential campaign, Kerry told voters that the President was not serious about education and promised that, if elected, he would spend an additional $27 billion.

It is as if the politicians are all the title character in Brewster's Millions. They are in a race to see who can waste the most money and the prize is re-election. It doesn't help that they are being egged on by the NEA and AFT which scarily enough have even more influence on public education than Uncle Sam.

Meanwhile, such idiotic notions as social promotion and "whole language" persist. Public education has become nothing more than a wide scale social engineering experiment conducted by so-called education experts. It is no wonder that 25% of public school teachers either homeschool or send their kids to private school. If it is not good enough for those perpetrating it, it sure isn't good enough for my child.

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Copyright © S Michael Moore 2005