"We're going to have to out-educate other countries," President Obama urged this week. How? By out-spending them, of course! It's the same old quack cure for America's fat and failing government-run schools monopoly. Truth in advertising: Get ready to fork over more Cash for Education Clunkers.
Our government already spends more per capita on education than any other of the 34 wealthiest countries in the world except for Switzerland, according to recent analysis of data from the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development. One in 10 high schools is a dropout factory. And our students' performance in one of the most prestigious global math competitions has been so abysmal that the U.S. simply withdrew altogether.
Obama's fiscal year 2011 budget already represents "one of the largest increases" in federal education spending history, and hikes total discretionary spending to nearly $51 billion. As he extols the virtues of "innovation" and "accountability," the last thing Obama wants you to think about is the actual results of these profligate federal ed binges:
Despite massive multibillion-dollar "investments" in teacher training, America's educators are horrifyingly incompetent at even elementary math.
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One math professor confessed: "Part of the reason the kids don't know it is because the teachers aren't transmitting that."
Among the supposedly cutting-edge programs funded by Obama's federal stimulus program is the $49 million technology initiative for the Detroit Public Schools.
The urban school system is overrun by corruption, violence and incompetence. Yet, Washington went ahead and forked over a whopping $530 million in federal porkulus funds to reward yet more Detroit government school failure and bail out the reckless-spending boobs who mismanaged the DPS budget and engineered a fiscal crisis.
The $49 million technology program distributed some 40,000 new (foreign-made) ASUS netbook computers, plus thousands of printers, scanners and desktop computers to teachers and kids from early childhood through 12th grade.
Nationwide, these technology infusions have turned out to be gesture-driven boondoggles and political payoffs that squander precious educational resources - with little, if any, measurable academic benefits.
Mark Lawson, school board president of one of New York state's first districts to put technology directly in students' hands, told The New York Times in 2007: "After seven years, there was literally no evidence it had any impact on student achievement - none. The teachers were telling us when there's a one-to-one relationship between the student and the laptop, the box gets in the way. It's a distraction to the educational process."
That about sums up federal intervention in public schooling: It's a taxpayer-subsidized distraction to the local educational process that throttles true competition, rewards failure and mistakes blind government largesse for achievement.
Contact Malkin at firstname.lastname@example.org.