July 28, 2010

July 28, 2010 | Factsheet on Education

Kids Deserve Better: Stopping the Obama Education Agenda

A Reckless Spending Spree

  • More Taxpayer Money Isn’t the Answer: After decades of ineffective billions, education spending is at an all-time high. Inflation-adjusted federal spending per pupil has tripled since 1970, and combined per-pupil expenditures stand at more than $10,000 nationally. Combined federal, state, and local spending on education now exceeds $550 billion annually, or about 4.2% of GDP.
  • Unprecedented Stimulus Spending : Moreover, the so-called “stimulus” bill fattened the Department of Education’s budget by $100 billion, an unprecedented increase in federal funding.
  • Money Does Not Equal Progress: Decades of increased education spending have yielded little academic progress. Academic achievement nationally has flatlined, and graduation rates are no better today than they were in 1970. But despite these historic levels of education funding, the Obama Administration, at the behest of teachers unions, is seeking to further inflate funding for the public education sector.

Keeping Students in Failing Schools

  • Undermining School Choice for Children in Need: One casualty of the Obama Administration’s education agenda is the successful and highly popular D.C. Opportunity Scholarship Program, which provides scholarships of up to $7,500 for low-income children in the nation’s capital but is being phased-out by the Administration.
  • School Choice Has a Proven Track Record: Despite a proven track record of increasing both educational achievement and attainment for District children, the Administration is bowing to the pressure of special interest groups who view school choice as a threat to the entrenched status quo.

Another Washington Takeover

  • Increasing Washington’s Hand: While No Child Left Behind significantly increased the federal role in education, the Obama Administration is orchestrating the largest federal overreach in decades by imposing national education standards and tests on states.
  • Race to the Bottom: Under the guise of education reform, the $4.35 billion Race to the Top grant program includes a requirement for states to implement these standards to increase their chances of receiving federal funding.
  • Less Parental Control: The Obama Administration seeks to make the $14 billion Title I funding contingent on adopting the national standards, which would ultimately make schools more responsive to the demands of Washington and less responsive to the needs of parents. Parents would have to relinquish one of the most powerful tools they have when it comes to their children’s education: control over the content of state standards and tests.

A Better Course Forward: Empowering Parents and Local Leaders

  • Restore Fiscal Prudence: More federal funding from Washington is not the answer to improving American education. Instead, states should be freed from burdensome federal education mandates and have greater flexibility to direct education resources, targeting resources more efficiently to local needs.
  • Free Students to Attend Safe, Effective Schools: School choice studies show that voucher students experience a variety of positive outcomes, including improved safety, graduation rates, parental satisfaction, and test scores. States should increase school choice options and have the freedom to permit parents to take their portion of federal funds to schools of their choice.
  • Restore State Authority in Education: Instead of adopting one-size-fits-all national standards and tests, state standards and tests should be strengthened and schools should increase transparency about results to parents and other taxpayers.

For more information, please visit: www.heritage.org

About the Author

Related Issues: Education