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.
Sorry, this blog has nothing to do with the Wall Street mess, despite the title.
Instead, consider this tiny story in the WaPo that reveals the general inanity of our subsidized nation. The article, “Federal Grant to Provide Help To Low-Income Students” reports on a $1 million federal grant to the state of Virginia.
Will the grant money be used to buy books for poor kids, or to help pay their tuition? Nope. It will go to hire bureaucrats to train kids on how to grab more education subsidies: “The agency plans … to help educate students about college, with a sizable focus on how to obtain financial aid.”
For more about the follies of federal granting, see Federal Aid to the States.