Like most political discussions, the student aid debate is driven far more by sentiment than reasoned analysis. If we used the latter, we’d be demanding big aid cuts for the sake of students and taxpayers alike.
College prices truly are ridiculous. But someone needs to tell President Obama that the root problem isn’t the colleges, which he is expected to announce today will be the targets of proposed sanctions should they raise prices too fast. No, the problem, Mr. President, is a federal government that wants to play Santa Claus by giving everybody, no matter how poorly qualified or unmotivated, money for college.
Nobody wants to be the guy — especially the Congress-guy — who says that we need to cut education spending. Nobody wants to be the target of attacks from both the well-intentioned and politically opportunistic that they hate children, only care about “the rich,” or any of the other deviousness that long ago snuck up behind reasoned debate, threw a rope around its neck, and pulled it backwards.
AEI’s Rick Hess and Stanford’s Linda Darling-Hammond—two folks who don’t always see eye to eye—have a New York Times op-ed that decries federal micromanagement in education, then lays out four things they think Washington should do.
Today’s big news is that the Obama administration — thanks to those crisis-ignorin’ creeps in Congress — is going off on its own to reduce purportedly devastating student loan burdens. Well, that’s the message. The reality is that the proposals just tinker around the edges, meaning debtors are getting little relief while the notion that it’s okay to stick taxpayers with other people’s obligations is advanced.
Today the POTUS — in this case, Principal of the United States — will give his third annual, national back-to-school speech, to be televised live by MSNBC. The immediate target, of course, is the kids, but I doubt it would be viewed negatively by the President if lots of adults saw or heard the speech and thought, “Wow, this guy really cares about kids. I really like him.” And who knows, maybe footage of inspiring the children will make it into a campaign ad or two.
I can’t look into President Obama’s heart, so I can’t tell you what motives are driving the American Jobs Act. I can, though, tell you this: One look at the facts about American education, and his proposal only makes sense if the goals are to energize union support, and perhaps use spending as some easy shorthand to tell voters that the President cares about kids.
Yesterday, Rep. John Kline (R-MN), chairman of the House Education and the Workforce Committee, introduced the first new legislation aimed at breaking down the prescriptiveness of the No Child Left Behind Act. It’s a small step in the right direction, but there are two serious problems with it:
Yesterday, Education Secretary Arne Duncan and Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius announced how $700 million in new Race to the Top money will be employed: $200 million to get close-loser states in the last RTTT to once again jump through hoops and grovel before their federal overloards, and $500 million for a new “early-learning” obedience contest.