Yesterday, we were supposed to all feel good that our President had really gotten serious about controlling spending. He was willing to forgo all his liberal dreams of expanding domestic programs, and freeze spending on non-defense discretionary spending.
That was yesterday, and clearly it was another political stunt, meant to fool the American people into somehow associating “fiscal responsibility” with our big-spending President. Today, the Washington Post reports that really there should have been another caveat to the spending freeze. It’s not just matters of national security that may require additional investment, we also, of course, need to jack up how much the federal government spends on primary and secondary education.
As the President would say, “let me be clear,” no one disputes that our primary and secondary public schools are a mess. Yet it’s been shown over and over again that more money isn’t the answer to our public schools’ problems. More importantly, education is a matter that’s really best left to states and localities. Education isn’t mentioned in the Constitution (not that most Washington politicians feel constrained by that), and there is little evidence to suggest that when the federal government gets involved it makes anything better (for example, see this report on the recent government study that shows that the billions of dollars spent on Head Start have resulted in no gains for participants-a shocking finding that has gone virtually unreported by the media).
Some states have seen real improvement in their education system. Florida, for example, has seen test scores climb (particularly among minority students) in the wake of embracing a host of real systemic reforms, including numerous school choice initiatives.
More money isn’t what our schools need. They need actual reform, and that won’t come from Washington.