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Wednesday, February 9, 2011


Daily Policy Digest

Education Issues

February 1, 2011
Stop Federal Spending on Education

While Washington spends huge sums on things that are education-related, the riches produce almost nothing of educational value. If anything, the feds keep stuffing donuts into an already obese system, says Neal McCluskey, associate director of the Cato Institute's Center for Educational Freedom.

* In 1970 Uncle Sam spent an inflation-adjusted $31.5 billion on public K-12 education; by 2009 that had ballooned to $82.9 billion.
* On a per-pupil basis, in 1970 the feds spent $435 per student; by 2006 -- the latest year with available data -- it was $1,015, a 133 percent increase.
* Real, overall, per-pupil spending (federal, state and local) rose from $5,593 in 1970 to $12,463 in 2006.

What do we have to show for this?

* Since the early 1970s, scores on the National Assessment of Educational Progress have been stagnant for 17-year-olds.
* In 1973 the average math score was 304 (out of 500); in 2008 it was just 306.
* In reading, the 1971 average was 285; in 2008 it was up a single point, hitting 286.

In the 2008-09 academic years, Washington spent roughly $83 billion on K-12 education and $37 billion on higher education. Add those together and you get $120 billion, a sum that's doing no educational good and, therefore, leaves no excuse for not applying it to our $14 trillion debt, says McCluskey.

Source: Neal McCluskey, "For the Nation's Sake, Cut Education Spending," Cato Institute, January 25, 2011.

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