You’d think the educators, administrators and teachers would be jumping for joy. Nearly $115 billion in new federal funding will be given out to states for K-12 and higher education as part of the Obama Administration's Stimulus Legislation. Not so. A recent Education Week article curiously titled “Rush to Pump out Stimulus Cash Highlights Disparities in Funding” (subscription required) describes some of the moans and groans from the education community.
The gusher of new federal education spending in the economic-stimulus bill signed into law last week will be piped to states and school districts with little or no regard for how badly they need the money. The measure could leave some states without enough money to restore all K-12 funding cuts, while others see a cash windfall.
That twist which some education advocates say could reinforce current funding anomalies, stems from the recession-driven imperative of pumping new funds out fast. Congress used existing federal formulas that tend to reward large districts and state with high per-pupil spending.
As a result, some states and districts are likely to benefit disproportionately from the two-year flood of Federal money. As governors and local school officials gear up to spend the aid, some of the big winners are beginning to emerge – and not all of them are among those hardest hit by the economic crisis.
Winners include states such as Alaska, Texas and Wyoming that haven’t been forced to cut K-12 funding but will still get their share of $39.5 billion set aside for education in the stimulus package’s state fiscal stabilization fund . . .
And for school districts in some of the most economically troubled states, such as California and Florida, the money from the stimulus package may not even come close to filling gaps created by state budget cuts.
I guess the Obama Administration was too busy ramrodding the legislation through Congress to mess with such trivial details as how the “stimulus” money would be distributed. Another minor detail that shouldn't be overlooked: what exactly does this money “stimulate”? But that’s another issue.
Only in America can states like California and Florida receive $5.9 billion and $2.7 billion respectively for state education programs, be considered “losers” and have state officials wringing their hands because it’s not enough money. Let’s face it: as long as the majority of educators believe every problem has a program, and leaders are more animated by political ideology than the education of children, the whining will never end. They’ll never be enough money.