While the current economic slowdown has most households trying to hold down a paycheck, and trimming spending, your congress is quickly turning the current economic stimulus package into a justification for spending on all sorts of programs. One area where federal spending never seems to stop is education. Education Week (subscription required) describes how the Congress is using the current crisis to produce billions in new spending for public education – most it having absolutely nothing to do with helping the nation’s economy.
The more than $100 billion in federal spending for education in the stimulus bill would be nearly double the entire $59.2 billion discretionary budget for the U.S. Department of Education in fiscal 2008 . . . The legislation includes a $79 billion fund to help states to prevent cuts in services, the bulk of which is slated for education. On top of that, the measure outlines specific aid for school construction, support for early-childhood education, and substantial spending boosts for major Education Department programs, including Title I grants for educating disadvantaged students and aid for special education.
For good measure the package also includes $1 billion for computers, science labs and training and a hefty $14 billion for K-12 school construction grants (Silly me, here I thought education was a local responsibility.)
If the numbers don’t make you gag, maybe the wide-eyed reaction of long time lobbyists will. Ed Week continues:
We’ve really turned a corner here. This is a new era for education funding,” assuming the plan is enacted, said Edward R. Kealy, the Executive Director of the Committee for Education Funding, an advocacy coalition in Washington. Mr. Kealy, who has been lobbying for increased federal education spending for more than two decades, said he had never seen dollar amounts for schools like those in the proposed House stimulus plan.
“This makes a very strong statement that providing adequate funding for education and modernizing schools is a key part of the solution to this economic crises’ he said.
“We hope this means that we can sustain that in future years. I know that’s going to be a challenge.
Stimulus package? Right. The last quote says it all. Now $100 billion increases must be sustained in the years ahead. If we learn anything from this ruse, it confirms once again that spending for education is insatiable. No matter how much you spend it is never enough. Remember: what counts for the party in power is public commitment — dollars, not outcomes. Nearly a doubling of federal education spending and look how soon the talk turned to sustaining such levels, nary a word on accountability or outcomes. Right that ship first, and you’d have the best economic stimulus package.