Obama-Facebook friendship too close?

While many in the conservative movement support Gov. Mitch Daniels, his recent announcement to pour more state funds into K-12 education gives me pause. In a news release last Friday, the governor called for an additional $150 million to be directed toward K-12 education in Indiana, suggesting he understands little about the real cost of public education or the threat schools pose to state budgets.

There’s a serious discrepancy between real and stated per pupil spending figures released by school districts across the country. Adam Schaeffer at the Cato Institute researched 18 districts – rich and “poor” – and found on average they each spent 44 percent more than they claimed. Too often the true cost of education remains under wraps, making it easy for politicians like Daniels to push for more spending, rather than acknowledge the waste and lack of transparency that plagues most schools.

What’s more, during our current fiscal crisis, Daniels appears unaware that public education is the biggest line item in state and local budgets. That should come as no surprise to him considering that education spending as a share of tax revenue at the state level has grown 90% since 1992 and 73% at the local level – all while performance has remained the same.

“Investing” in education makes for a nice sound bite. But if Daniels really wants to be a leader in education – and make a splash in the GOP primary pool – he should throw his weight behind state level school choice programs that are transparent, cost efficient, and effective at giving children a real education.