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.
Economist Richard Vedder has written a piece for the Chronicle of Higher Education entitled “The Great College-Degree Scam.” Using data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, Vedder found that “approximately 60 percent of the increase in the number of college graduates from 1992 to 2008 worked in jobs that the BLS considers relatively low skilled—occupations where many participants have only high school diplomas and often even less.”
For those of us who recognize that federal k-12 education spending has been a costly failure, it’s been great to hear some tea party candidates call for the abolition of the U.S. Department of Education.
As I recently discussed, not only does the federal Head Start program have a fraud problem, it has patently failed in its mission to help children from low-income families succeed later in life.
A study from the American Institutes of Research finds that federal and state governments have wasted billions of dollars on subsidies for students who didn’t make it past their first year in college. The federal total for first-year college drop outs was $1.5 billion from 2003 to 2008.
The House is scheduled to pass another $26 billion bailout for state and local governments on Tuesday. The legislation provides another $10 billion for education and $16 billion to extend the increased share of Medicaid being paid for by the federal government since passage of the stimulus.
Yesterday, the Washington Post reviewed the life of Phyllis McClure, who was an advocate for federal education spending in low-income neighborhoods.
The 1965 Elementary and Secondary Education Act sparked a huge increase in federal education spending and regulations. The legislation’s Title I was supposed to provide aid to K–12 schools in high-poverty areas, but by the end of the 1960s it was providing aid to 60 percent of the nation’s school districts. Today, Title I is the largest federal subsidy program for K–12 education.
Policy wonks on the left are sometimes willing to concede that particular ideas they supported for micromanaging the economy haven’t worked out as planned. But they are rarely willing to admit that there are deeper problems with central planning in general.
A battle over higher education loans is coming to a head as Democrats consider including the ill-titled Student Aid and Fiscal Responsibility Act in reconciliation legislation. In one corner, we have private education loan lenders who enjoy the generous subsidies and loan guarantees provided by Uncle Sam. In the other, we have policymakers who want to cut out the middleman by having the Department of Education provide direct loans.