According to the U.S. Department of Education, state, local and federal spending on education amounts to a whopping one trillion dollars per year. That’s approximately $19,000 per student. At the same time, taxpayers are continuously being lectured about the need for more funding. 12% of educational funding comes from the federal government, the balance from, state and local coffers.
Even though local taxpayers provide most of the funding the Feds call the tune. The Department of Education’s Mission Statement is to “foster education excellence”, and “ensure equal access.” …“[T]he Department pursues its twin goals of access and excellence through the administration of programs that cover every area of education and range from preschool education through postdoctoral research.”
What are we getting for our money? We have all heard the stories of High School graduates who cannot read their own diplomas and college freshmen who require remedial courses in reading and math before they are able to do college level work. A recent Rasmussen poll gives us further insight into the success of our education system.
According to the latest Rasmussen poll, just 53% of America’s adults believe capitalism to be better than socialism. 20% believe socialism is better, and 27% are not sure which is best. Among adults under thirty which would include college students and recent graduates, only 37% prefer capitalism and 30% are not sure. As the demographics increase in age the percentage that believe capitalism to be better increases. Only 13% of adults over 40 prefer socialism as an economic system.
The natural process of ageing would no doubt account for some of the change in attitude as people grow older and wiser. However, the low number of twenty-somethings who favor capitalism is a good indicator of the quality of our education efforts in civics, economics and history. The Rasmussen poll numbers do, however, indicate success in accomplishing the primary goal of America’s modern education, to prepare future generations for the acceptance of socialism and statism.
It is not by accident that almost half of the American public does not know the difference between capitalism and socialism or what those differences mean to our survival as a free nation. For more than a half-century, the Department of Education under the 1965 Elementary and Secondary Education Act has been systematically downplaying the teaching of history, economics, and civics in public schools. Modern curricula dealing with these subjects are presented with an anti-capitalist, anti-American, pro-socialist and pro-statist bias.
Under our Constitution the Federal government has no role in education, leaving it to the people and the states. Historically, education has always been the responsibility of state and local governments in conjunction with parents. That arrangement continues today, but with a twist. States are still given the responsibility of administering education but, only under the standards and directions of the Federal government.
During the sixties and seventies we were inundated with “scientific” teaching fads that focused more on methodology than results. Teaching is not a science but an art. Just as an art school cannot produce successful artists without talented students, teacher’s colleges cannot produce successful teachers without students endowed with a talent for teaching. They can however, stifle the natural talents of teachers by imposing a standard methodology.
One of the most important challenges we have today is to wrest control of the education of our children from the hands of Washington bureaucrats and the unions. We may face insurmountable odds in accomplishing this in the short term. However, there is no advantage in accepting the status quo, and there is no downside in demanding parent and local control of primary and secondary education free from the coercion of the Federal Government.