January 30, 2018

Education Spending Booms, Results Stagnant

If more money was diverted to school choice efforts, our education system would necessarily be upended.

We’re just a few days removed from National School Choice Week, which has taken on broader significance during the Trump era. Columnist Star Parker wrote recently on this issue and the urgency of school reform amidst horrible proficiency statistics.

As Parker notes, America’s financial contribution to education is second to none. Yet none of that additional investment is evident in overall grades. Students here rank 23, 25 and 40 globally when it comes to reading, science and math, respectively. Moreover, she writes, “In the case of our black children, the results are dismal. In the 2015 NAEP math scores, 17 percent of black fourth-graders and 11 percent of black eighth-graders performed at ‘proficient’ levels. In reading, 16 percent of black fourth-graders and 15 percent of black eighth-graders were ‘proficient.’” Minority-filled schools often take the brunt of the effect of our current education system whose structure creates poor results.

However, according to the Cato Institute, “Our education system’s troubles are not confined to low-income districts — America’s students as a whole lag behind many other industrialized nations on international tests. Government expenditures on K-12 education have more than doubled over the last 40 years (adjusted for inflation), and yet U.S. students’ academic performance at the end of high school is flat. Top-down regulations intended to improve quality instead stifle diversity and innovation. And rather than foster harmony, too often government schools force citizens into social conflict.”

This is a despicable return on investment. Making matters worse, the people who justify the status quo are demonizing Education Secretary Betsy DeVos for what Parker describes is her “brutally honest assessment about the state of education in our country.” At least the Heartland, where school choice is proliferating, is on DeVos’ side. Parkes adds, “Today, there are 63 different school choice programs across the nation involving 469,000 individuals, according to EdChoice. But total expenditures on school choice programs are still less the 0.4 percent of the $586.8 billion we spend annually on K-12 education.”

If more of that money can be diverted to school choice efforts — where the results speak for themselves — the return on investment would be so remarkable that education in America as we know it would be completely upended. No wonder elitists are fighting so hard to maintain a system that breeds dependency.

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