The shell game of publicly funded education
By Nancy Salvato
Under which shell are your tax dollars? What, not in your local public school district? Are they in your state? Are they somewhere in this country? How do we lose sight of them like that? Let's see…
Where will Los Angeles get the money to tutor 300,000 students in schools designated "low performing" under No Child Left Behind? Part of their schools' federal funding will be given to parents, about $1,500.00 per child, to cover the cost of tutoring their children in Math or English. In effect, money that you and I work hard to earn will be handed over to other parents. Yet many in the education establishment are screaming that there aren't enough federal funds to meet all their needs. There should be more. Should those residing on both sides of the continental divide be taxed more, at the federal level, to provide remediation to students residing in Los Angeles?
I don't think so. First of all, instead of giving money to parents who have been given no other option than to send their children to a school that is failing, I think the parents should be given vouchers which would allow their children to attend a school which would be more likely to meet their needs in the first place. It would certainly cost less. Also, it could be argued that families must sign a contract agreeing to do the necessary work at home which will ensure a child's success at school. Teachers and families should be forced to partner.
I vehemently disagree with the idea that federal tax dollars can be used to fund "special interests" (to the benefit of one group) instead of on something to benefit the whole country – for instance, developing and testing effective teaching methods which could be used in classrooms throughout the U.S.
Those who serve in the government are supposed to look after their constituents. Yet politicians continually authorize government spending on failing public schools. Allowing any business, including education, to spend other people's money invites waste and corruption. There is definitely a difference between "free money" and money that comes as the result of hard work and dedication. Yet "Educrats" continue to receive "free money" instead of having to work hard to keep their classrooms filled with students.
There are other unintended consequences of continued government interest in education. The cost of higher education will continue to rise as long as government co-signs the student loans necessary to make this education affordable for most families. In South Carolina, when students default on these loans, the government guarantees the lenders 98 per cent of their principal. Under Clinton, our federal government started its own program of lending money. The federal government also hands out Pell grants to help cover the costs of 5.4 million students.
Rather than force institutions of higher learning to offer an affordable education, this government funding – at taxpayer expense, has allowed colleges to keep raising their costs because they know that an artificial market has the money – from you and I - to continue paying their unreasonable fees.
Many people believe that their government is supposed to take care of them. But that is simply not true. The government is supposed to make sure that people can take care of themselves. Education worked much better in this country before government got involved. Education should be left to the forces of the free market. We need to stop thinking that the government can do it better. NCLB has made transparent the failures of our public schools. Now let the parents decide how their education dollars should be spent to fix them.
Nancy Salvato is the President of The Basics Project, a non-profit, non-partisan research and educational project whose mission is to promote the education of the American public on the basic elements of relevant political, legal and social issues important to our country. She is an experienced educator and an independent contractor with Prism Educational Consulting. She serves as Educational Liaison for Illinois Senator Carole Pankau. She works nationally and locally furthering the cause of Education Reform. Her writing is widely published on the internet and occasionally in print venues such as the Washington Times. Her opinions have been heard on select radio programs across the nation. Additionally, her writing has been recognized by the US Secretary of Education. Copyright © Nancy Salvato 2005
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