More Taxpayer Expenditures As the “Solution” to All Schooling-Related Problems
In his 2008 presidential campaign, Obama stressed the importance of increasing government expenditures on public education. “We're going to put more money into education than we have,” he said. “We have to invest in human capital.”
Obama’s education plan called for “investing” $10 billion annually in a comprehensive “Zero to Five” plan that would “provide critical supports to young children and their parents.” These funds would be used to “create or expand high-quality early care and education programs for pregnant women and children from birth to age five”; to “quadruple the number of eligible children for Early Head Start”; to “ensure [that] all children have access to pre-school”; to “provide affordable and high-quality child care that will … ease the burden on working families”; to allow “more money” to be funneled “into after-school programs”; and to fund “home visiting programs [by health-care personnel] to all low-income, first-time mothers.”
Consider Obama's perspective on the low graduation rates of nonwhite minorities: “Latinos have such a high dropout rate. What you see consistently are children at a very early age are starting school already behind. That’s why I’ve said that I’m going to put billions of dollars into early childhood education that makes sure that our African-American youth, Latino youth, poor youth of every race, are getting the kind of help that they need so that they know their numbers, their colors, their letters.”
Obama's stimulus package included approximately $100 billion for education.
In Reality, More Money Does Not Buy Better Education
American taxpayers have already been spending $600 billion per year on public elementary and secondary schools, with average per-pupil expenditures nationwide approaching $11,000 annually. In the District of Columbia, the per-pupil spending figure is over $16,000 per year—among the highest for any city in the United States. Yet DC’s public schools are the worst in the country, as measured by student scores. Detroit likewise spends about $16,000 yearly on the education of each public school pupil. Yet, when tested, fourth- and eighth-graders in that city’s public schools read at a level that is 73% below the national average. In Trenton, New Jersey, whose population is more than 80% black and Hispanic, the government spends some $20,663 per public school pupil, while the citywide high-school graduation rate is a mere 41%. And in Camden, New Jersey, where nearly 90% of all residents are black or Hispanic, the city spends roughly $16,000 per pupil, yet only 38.6% of the city's public school children ever obtain a high-school diploma.
Obama Opposes School Voucher Programs
President Obama opposes voucher programs designed to permit parents to divert a portion of their tax liabilities away from the public-school system, and to use those funds instead to help cover the tuition costs for private schools to which they might prefer to send their children.
Obama's opposition to vouchers is consistent with the stance of the 3.2 million-member National Education Association (NEA) and the 1.5 million-member American Federation of Teachers (AFT). These unions rank among the most powerful political forces in the United States. The NEA, for instance, employs a larger number of political organizers than the Republican and Democratic National Committees combined. Of the $59 million in combined campaign donations which the NEA and AFT have made during the past two decades, more than $56 million (i.e., 95%) has gone to Democrats. That figure represents merely the tip of the proverbial iceberg, for it does not include expenditures on such politically oriented initiatives as television ads or get-out-the-vote efforts.