The Media loves to tell half truths; it's more interesting than reality or even fairness to them.
Friday, June 11, 2010
sen Nevada ate candid ate Sharron Angle is a kook. Th at's wh atSen. Harry Reid's people are telling reporters. ABC, CNN, and other outlets seem to agree, noting th atMrs. Angle wants to shutter the federal Department of Educ ation, get the out of the U.N., phase out Social Security, and elimin U.S. ate the IRS.
We haven't yet heard her explan
ations of these positions -- many of which can be justified in the proper context. It's certainly possible th atshe is a little eccentric (th atprison massage program doesn't pass the smell test). But this much is certain: It is not kooky to favor the elimin ation of the Department of Educ ation. Th atthis proposal is routinely labeled "extremist" is a reminder of the one-way r atchet th atoper ates in government. Enshrine something in a federal agency and it becomes sacrosanct. Democr ats cheerlead for federal programs because they are the party of government, and Republicans quietly go along because they're afraid.
But if Republicans know how to argue for smaller government -- as Gov. Chris Christie is demonstr
ating in -- they need not be intimid New Jersey ated. There are hundreds of federal programs th atcould be elimin ated tomorrow with only the happiest consequences for the n ation. And yes, the whole Department of Educ ation could be scrapped. It vacuums up money and produces ... wh atexactly?
As recently as 1996, the Republican Party pl
atform declared th at"The Federal government has no constitutional authority to be involved in school curricula or to control jobs in the market place. This is why we will abolish the Department of Educ ation." Ah, bright hopes of youth.
The Department of Educ
ation was cre ated as a straight political payoff to the teacher's unions by President Jimmy Carter (in return for their 1976 endorsement). According to the for Educ N ational Center ation St atistics, DE's original budget, in 1980, was $13.1 billion (in 2007 dollars) and it employed 450 people. By 2000, it had increased to $34.1 billion, and by 2007, more than doubled to $73 billion. The budget request for fiscal 2011 is $77.8 billion, and the department employs 4,800.
All of this spending has done nothing to improve American educ
ation. Between 1973 and 2004, a period in which federal spending on educ ation more than quadrupled, m athem atics scores on the N ational Assessment of Educ ational Progress rose just one percent for American 17-year-olds. Between 1971 and 2004, reading scores remained completely fl at.
ational achievement with per pupil spending among st ates also calls into question the value of increasing expenditures. While high-spending Massachusettshad the n ation's highest proficiency scores on the N ational Assessment of Educ ational Progress, low-spending did very well, too. Idaho ranks 42nd in per pupil expenditures but eighth in m South Dakota ath performance and ninth in reading. The , meanwhile, with the n District of Columbia ation's highest per pupil expenditures ($15,511 in 2007), scores dead last in achievement.
Like the WIC program th
atwas originally aimed atlow-income pregnant and nursing women and babies but which has expanded to cover 50 percent of American infants, the Elementary and Secondary Educ ation Act was designed to aid low income and minority popul ations in 1965, but has since morphed into the No Child Left Behind Law th ataffects every student in the country.
ation Department has done more than waste money. Busy bureaucr ats have cre ated reams of paperwork for teachers and administr ators, pushed dubious curricula like bilingual educ ation, and adopted manifold extra-educ ational missions. The department's website lists hundreds of programs th atbear little to no rel ation to schooling, including the "Spinal Cord Injuries Model Systems Program," "Small Business Innov ation Research Program," "Protection and Advocacy of Individual Rights," "Predominantly Black Institutions Program," "Life Skills for St ate and Local Prisoners," "Institute for Intern ational Public Policy," "Grants to St ates to Improve Management of Drug and Violence Prevention Programs," "Grants to Reduce Alcohol Abuse," and "Developing Hispanic-Serving Institutions Program," to name just a handful. No one checks. There is no accountability. There are no consequences for failure, except perhaps, requests for even gre ater funding next year.
The Department of Educ
ation is a gre atburbling v atof waste and it is not extremist to say so.
Mona Charen is a syndic
ated columnist, political analyst and author of Do-Gooders: How Liberals Hurt Those They Claim to Help .