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Wednesday, April 28, 2004

Opposing Views on Teacher Pay

How can we get better teachers? Would increasing salaries help the situation?

Michelle Mooney is a teacher. She thinks that teachers are overworked, underpaid, and barely appreciated at all. Nevertheless she wouldn't trade her job for the world.

Rick Hess is the director of Education Policy Studies at the American Enterprise Institute. He argues that teachers aren't underpaid and therefore pay raises wouldn't lead to better teaching

Two different types of argument, two different conclusions.
What's the Connection?

People might be surprised to know that the National Education Association was a sponsor of the pro-choice March for Women's Lives that recently took place in Washington, DC. Since the connection isn't obvious, readers might be interested in this analysis by Mike Antonucci, whose Educational Intelligence Agency Communique (following teachers unions) is always insightful:

1) NEA and Abortion: What Neither Side Wants to Hear. The big NEA story last week was the union’s sponsorship of the March for Women’s Lives. NEA usually low-keys its involvement in the broader, non-education-related liberal movement, but lending its name to the abortion rights rally was exceptionally direct. Abortion, like lesbian/gay issues, puts NEA in a bind, and its reaction last week to the complaints of pro-life NEA members clearly illustrated its dilemma.

NEA and religious conservatives actually share a common goal: they both want to paint the union’s positions on social issues in stark terms, with us on the side of goodness and light and them on the side of evil and darkness. Unfortunately for both, NEA’s position on abortion (and homosexuality) has a lot more to do with conflicting internal and external imperatives than anything else.

What pro-lifers don’t want to hear (especially from me, I might add) is that NEA’s position on abortion has absolutely no discernible effect on the issue at any level – federal, state or local – or in any venue – executive, legislative or judicial. NEA’s policy does not lead to abortion advocacy in the classroom, nor in the textbooks, nor in the Democratic Party. It budgets no money for the issue. And if the union were to pass a resolution of neutrality on abortion, most members would never know the difference.

The only reason NEA has any policy at all on abortion is because a large majority of the union’s activists are liberals and leftists. Just as conservative organizations have single-issue people, the NEA has many different single-issue people. One faction cares passionately about lesbian and gay issues. Another cares about Mumia Abu Jamal. Another faction is made up of anti-war activists.

The difference between the left and the right is that conservatives are content to let single-issue people be single-issue people. The National Rifle Association never asks the Christian Coalition to publicly support Second Amendment rights. But liberal factions are always trying to sign up other liberal factions to support their single issue. So, not only does NEA sponsor the March for Women’s Lives, but so do groups like the Gay Men’s Health Crisis, the Communist Party USA, the Earth Rights Institute, the Nevada Shakespeare Company, and the Sierra Club.

But NEA has a broad membership, with a large minority of members who don’t want their union joining every liberal parade. If NEA had a resolution with an open declaration of support for abortion rights, it would lose members and income, particularly in states where teachers are not compelled to join or financially support the union. Instead, it has a resolution that states: “The National Education Association supports family planning, including the right to reproductive freedom.”

The abortion rights advocates get tacit support for their position, and the union gets cover in those places where membership loss is a real possibility.

What NEA doesn’t want to hear (especially from me) is that last week’s events show how untenable this policy is. The claim that NEA has no position on abortion isn’t fooling anyone. The March for Women’s Lives declared its support for reproductive freedom, in accordance with NEA’s policy, but it also declared its mission “to uphold the fundamental right of women to control their lives through safe and legal abortion” and “to ensure the availability of contraceptive services, family planning, and abortion services to all women regardless of geographic location or income.” That, my friends, is a position on abortion.

Even more insulting to the intelligence of its members is the set of talking points NEA headquarters sent to state affiliates about the march controversy. By citing four old legal cases in which the union has been involved, only two of which has the remotest relation to abortion, NEA wants members to believe it is merely trying to protect them from being forced to have abortions against their will. Nice try.

One vulnerable state affiliate had its own method for dealing with the issue. The Utah Education Association (UEA) flatly denied any involvement with the march. “UEA is in no way participating in this rally,” said UEA President Pat Rusk.



Quote of the Day, Division of Stopped Clocks

One of the great goals of education is to initiate the young into the conversation of their ancestors; to enable them to understand the language of that conversation, in all its subtlety, and maybe even, in their maturity, to add to it some wisdom of their own.

--Joseph Sobran

Monday, April 26, 2004

Take it for What it's Worth

Nearly half of Texas school teachers are considering quitting.
Next in the Parade of Reports and Publications

The Alliance for Excellence in Education has a new report out which claims that "American high schools are in crisis" and then goes on to compare President Bush's and John Kerry's proposals on secondary school issues. (Here's their more comprehensive, original report on what ails our high schools.)


One of the weaknesses of this report is that its graphics are situated such that in any place where one proposal does not correspond to another, one candidate is left with "no comparable initiative." The take away assumption is that if one candidate does not have a proposal that deals specifically with problem X, then said candidate does not care about problem X. If this is conscious, then this is an attempt to gin up the number of proposals on an educational topic. The problem is that more proposals do not equal better policy, it just means more proposals. While there is something to be said for trying a number of approaches, all that's actually achieved is the proliferation of small programs that are often never revisited to assess their efficacy.

Wednesday, April 21, 2004

Krista Kafer has a FAQ

and it's very useful.
Meet the New D.A.R.E. (Same as the Old D.A.R.E?)

As I had noted below, the Drug Awareness Resistance Education (DARE) program is facing some serious heat in the state of Massachusetts. The Lieutenant Governor is on record questioning the efficacy of the program at its goal of keeping kids off drugs and state funding was already pulled by former Governor Jane Swift.

Now it looks as if DARE has been overhauled in order to respond to its critics concerns about inefficacy. This ain't the DARE that I (and every other graduate of West Orange public schools) got in the classroom. The program has dropped its "Just Say No" language, shifted its focus to 7th and 9th grades from 5th graders, and replaced its lecture-style format with...role-playing exercises. Whence the overhaul? A fat $13.7 million grant from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation. Nice work! Time will tell whether the new DARE will actually be able to keep kids off drugs and alcohol.

Full story here.
Effective Teaching Enhances Brain Functioning

The worst part of the ideologically-driven "Reading Wars" was that it crowded out new, accumulating evidence about the biological basis for literacy development.

Here's new evidence--and good news!--that will hopefully be utilized rather than ignored. New brain imaging techniques have revealed that effective reading instruction (phonemic awareness, phonics, etc.) actually rewires the brain. The Bush administration has taken a lot of heat for its (ab)use of the phrases "scientifically sound" and "scientifically proven." Leaving rhetoric aside, this news is a reminder that scientific discovery can often transcend policy debates that seemed deadlocked in ideological holding patterns.

Tuesday, April 20, 2004

Maine is Ignoring the Evidence

There's strong evidence that small schools are better managed and produce superior results in both socialization and academic achievement. So why is the Governor of Maine pushing for school district consolidation? (Quick answer: Because he's cheap and short-sighted...)

The Digest of Education Statistics shows that we had about 119,000 school districts in 1937 but we are now down under 15,000. (See Column 2) So while our population more than doubled, we have reduced the number of school districts by more than 90%.

The unrelenting, systematic, and overwhelmingly successful move to consolidate school districts originates in a management theory that we no longer believe (basically, that economies of scale always obtain and, therefore, that Bigger is Better). We no longer believe that this is true because we have plenty of evidence to refute it. It's especially tragic that it took a seven decade experiment in consolidation--one that hurt generations of students--in order to prove it. Perhaps worst of all is that we may be unable to return to a decentralized system of high standards combined with local control. Bloated bureaucracies are entrenched, inert, and more likely to grow than get reigned in.

Monday, April 19, 2004

Corporal Punishment

Where does stern parenting stop and child abuse begin? How about at a kid's sore, red butt?

There's a strong movement in Britain to outlaw the practice of spanking. I'm particularly fond of the group's name--the Children are Unbeatable! Alliance.
Playing Hooky

Truancy is rising in DC area public schools. I wonder why.
Education and Indoctrination in the Far East

Interesting story from Hong Kong. Predictably, the Chinese government is using its new sovereignty over its tiny mega-wealthy island to teach Hong Kong students aspects of Maoist philosophy and other tenets of Sino-Communism.

Radical critics in the West claim that all education is indoctrination and that we are fooling ourselves if we believe that "modern, industrialized" countries can or would actually separate academic instruction (reading, writing, arithmetic, etc.) from fundamentally political questions. Such critics are mostly ignored and often are not even given the chance to present their case.
Quote of the Day, Irony Division

"This is a generation of students who, because of different types of technologies, like Word, which has an automatic grammar check, don't know how to do it themselves" she said. "A lot of them can point and click and really don't have to learn the grammar."

--Carina Wong, of Kaplan test prep, on the new SAT grammar section. It looks like Ms. Wong could use a little help on the grammar rules herself. (Watch those dependent clauses!)

Thursday, April 15, 2004

Que est-ce que c'est chose, "l'adolescent"?

Adolescence is a relatively recent thing in human history -- a period of years between the constraints of childhood and the responsibilities of adulthood. This irresponsible period of adolescence is artificially extended by long years of education, much of it wasted on frivolities. Tenure extends adolescence even further for teachers and professors.

--Thomas Sowell, Economist, Author of a few education-related books including Inside American Education

I'm not sure that I agree with the ornery tone but Sowell's basic point about the invention of such arbitrary categories as "the teen" is definitely on point.
From the Department of Verifying the Obvious

Fourth graders taught with with calculators have trouble performing basic computation by hand.

In other news, five year olds in strollers are worse at walking than their carriage-less counterparts.

The guy who performed this study, Tom Loveless of the Brookings Institute, is super-smart. Still, I'm left scratching my head as to why this subject even required empirical testing when common sense should have been enough. Am I the only one who thinks that the rationale for introducing calculators to kids who haven't learned (say) their multiplication or the skill of carrying numbers is self-evidently stupid. Here, judge for yourself:

Teachers began allowing children to use calculators in the mid-1970s. The notion was that they would learn addition, subtraction and other basic skills with or without calculators and could move more quickly to complex problems and enjoy math more. Several studies supported this.

Even if empirical evidence was not needed to refute this logically dubious chain of reasoning, you can still learn all sorts of quirky, fascinating facts from these sorts of studies. For instance, while calculators harm kids' adding skills, they're really bad for youngsters' subraction, multiplication, and division. Furthermore, for some unknown reason, it appears that calculators exacerbate the skills gap between white and minority students.


Late to the Ball...

...but still lookin' fly. Iowa is poised to open its first charter schools.
Beating Back Grade Inflation

Princeton University is seeking to curb grade inflation by establishing institutional grading standards. It looks as though those standards amount to fewer than 35% "A's" for undergraduate courses and fewer than 55% "A's" for individual coursework. Students at Princeton seem skeptical but not hysterical in their opposition. Whether or not it works, Princeton is recognizing that grade inflation is a problem.

I'm genuinely puzzled if you could make a system that couldn't be gamed. Princeton's solution, for example, would seem to encourage people to take as much independent study as possible.

Wednesday, April 14, 2004

Thinner Kids, Please

According to the U.S. Surgeon General and all other non-blind public health observers, America is in the midst of a growing epidemic of childhood obesity.

Education policy has been mobilized as a weapon to counter poor eating habits at home and lack of exercise in children's lives. The most popular tactic has been banning vending machines in public schools while a more effective but less utilized course would be increasing the physical education requirements. An article from the always useful Stateline.org has a run-down of what different states are doing. According to the article, tough new federal requirements for improving academic standards may be responsible for states dispensing with or lowering their phys ed requirements.

Even if this were true, I don't think that it's a reason to lower academic standards. Kids are in school to learn, first and foremost. Keeping them healthy is, by and large, their parents' responsibility.
Special Ed: Boom Industry

Total increase in NJ school population, 96-97 to 02-03: 13%
Total increase in Special Ed enrollment: 30%
Total increase in spending: 79% (or $2.3 billion for those counting at home)

Full story here.
Nice While it Lasted: Double-Dipping To End in Maryland

Maryland used to have a really neat way of filling teacher shortages. They would hire teachers out of retirement. The cool part is that these teachers would still be able to draw their pensions while also being paid to teach. They would, in effect, be drawing two streams of income at once and sometimes would net over a cool $100 K. Good deal, huh?

Not anymore.
Rugged Individualists on the Frontier

Nebraska has refused to implement statewide tests in order to verify Adequate Yearly Progress(AYP) standards required for qualifying No Child Left Behind funding. Instead, Nebraska is using locally developed assessment portfolios. Details here. Nevertheless, the Department of Education has given the state's plan its blessing. Apparently, Nebraska's Constitution guarantees local control.

It's interesting to see what happens as the states have to implemement the assessment requirements of NCLB. How far will the states be able to push the feds' leniency? Most people in ed policy strongly doubt that any state will be defunded on grounds of non-compliance.

Extra: This has nothing to do with education, but it's a fascinating story about frontier culture in American life.

Tuesday, April 13, 2004

Nation's Most Derided State is also America's Most Educated State...

...at least by three measures. New Jersey is number 1 in the percentage of ninth graders who finish high school within four years, number 1 in the percentage of students who immediately enter college, and number 1 in in the percentage of students who are still enrolled as undergraduates after two years. Alas, New Jersey is only eighth in the percentage of students who graduate college on time.

Is it any wonder that New Jersey is also number 1 in median household income?

(Yes, stat-nerds, I know that this is correlation and not causation.)

(And yes, grammar nerds, I know that I used the numeral "1" when normally the word "one" would be used for numbers under 10.)
Advice to Teachers: Get Thee to New Jersey. Now.

Rising teachers' salaries are claiming most of the increases in public school funding in the Garden State according to this article.

Labor-friendly state regulations are the approximate cause of the situation:

"It's an artificial labor market, supply is kept artificially low; the union wields great power with the Legislature so the playing field is tilted toward union," Riley said. "The mediation rules are meaningless. Every district wants to avoid a strike that plays havoc with the lives of working parents and divides a community for years. There are no teeth in the law banning strikes, so they can strike with impunity."

And here are the practical results, according to numbers tabulated by Education Week:

New Jersey's average teacher salary is $51,955, third highest in the nation, but that ranking falls to 30th when adjusted for the state's cost of living, according to Education Week magazine, which used 2001 figures in its national survey.

I was born and reared in New Jersey and lived there until age 22. I am highly dubious of the ranking of 30th. New Jersey is expensive but not that expensive.

Is devoting such a high proportion of funding increases to teachers' salaries optimal for student learning? On one hand, I am certain that salary increases for teachers, to the extent that they improve morale, are FAR more important than capital improvements like repairing roofs, stairways, or building a new computer lab or improving the high school tv station.

On the other hand, if increases in teacher salary cannot be used to induce higher achieving people into the teaching profession--[cough] certification requirements [cough]--then the extra spending is mostly for naught.


Oh, for Heaven's Sake

What the heck does it take to get into a top college these days?

Monday, April 12, 2004

You Down With S.A.T.?

Choosing the most contentious issue in education policy is a fool's errand. But if you had to pick just one, the SAT is a good candidate. Everything from the test's accuracy to its implicit biases to its administration has been raked over the coals by angry parents, disappointed students and shrill professional critics. What can you do? Making decisions whose consequences affect the lives and fortunes of people's kids is a nasty and infuriating process.

The SAT is about to undergo a major change. In an attempt to make the test fairer and more predictive, the people at the Education Testing Service are deleting some aspects (e.g., the analogies section) and adding others (an essay). Trying to please people is another fool's errand, but the strategy is to make the test more reflective of reality and what is taught (pleasing progressives) and more rigorous (pleasing conservatives).

Count me among one of those who are displeased. The great advantage of the SAT is that it's a leveler. Through standardization, it compensates for the differences in teachers, school districts, and curricula. Simply put, it battles grade inflation, deflation, etc. by being a test of knowledge rather than one of how well people can please a teacher who might either be too lenient or demanding or simply an erratic grader.

Adding an essay to the mix seems to be opening the Pandora's box of subjectivity to the mix. Subjectivity has its place--it's important to be able to make fine-grained, qualitative judgments. But there's plenty of subjectivity in the process of evaluating student and its the SAT's job to counter that tendency, not succumb to it.



Sunday, April 11, 2004

Rockin' out with History

A funny thing happened on the way to history class. It used to be that Educational Conservatives were in favor of large content and rigor and if the kids didn't like it, that's too bad. Progressives, by contrast, were concerned that if the kids were bored learning, they simply wouldn't digest any information.

Well, a new trope on the right seems to have emerged. It looks like the conservatives are now opposed to large, heavy, boring, PC textbooks and in favor of things that are slimmer and more lively. See this article for proof, this piece for details, and this book for rationale.
Daring to Question the Unquestionable

There's a fascinating article in The American Educator which dares to challenge one of the great widely held ideals of American life: that everyone who has the opportunity to go to college should go to college. This dictum is the commonly dispensed advice (just think of counseling scenes in TVs and Movies) and the basis for public policy. The slogan for one prominent think tank is "Thinking K-16." The goal of universal college education is a pillar of the education program of the Democratic Party and has become common sense. But is it a feasible, worthwhile goal?

There are good reasons why America--unlike many countries--does not seek to weed out some students and put them on vocational or other non-academic tracks. Believe it or not, much of it has to do with political theories, institions, and conceptions of opportunity. A system that is based on "checks and balances"--competing spheres of authority--must be in deep tension with any scheme that seeks to put judgment of a person's educational future in the hands of a central authority. Whereas children in other (western, industrialized) countries may be selected for training in the trades, in the U.S., this decision is largely up to the children and the parents. This method has its advantages in that it allows for the possibility of late bloomers and minimizes the chance that a bureaucratic error will permanently screw up the life of a student.

James Rosenbaum's article concentrates on the disadvantages, which he claims are far more pervasive and damaging. Many people are being "over-schooled" at a tremedous expense to themselves (in both time and money) and to the state. A failure to be straight with kids at the high school level leads to a situation in which much time and money is wasted in college, where students who never got the hang of high school homework and studying often drop out.

How does one balance the need to be realistic about a student's future prospects with a humility and respect for the individual that does not label some people as "failed students" when perhaps their potential just hasn't been tapped?
NYC adds Portfolio-Making to Teachers' Plates

Is there anything more random, uneven, inconsistent, superficial, and sloppy than evaluation through portfolio making? I didn't think so. So why is New York City making implementation of high-stakes testing for third graders dependent on portfolios? Do they want lawsuits?

Third-grade teachers at struggling New York City schools will have to spend the last few weeks of the school year preparing extensive portfolios for all children in danger of being held back, according to newly released regulations.

The regulations, posted on the Department of Education's Web site this week, require that for pupils who score in the lowest of four categories on citywide mathematics or English tests, teachers create portfolios documenting the children's performance through writing samples, class work, homework, teacher observations, level of reading from classroom libraries and other information.


Finland=Edutopia?

Via Jenn Holland, I get an article on the Educational system in Finland. The article is exemplary of New York Times reporting at its best, combining National Geographic travelogue with Economist style analysis to take you to a place and give you a quick but revealing insight into its workings. Often the NYT is exposing a special or peculiar problem that is foreign to Americans, but sometimes the stories are quirky or positive.

This story is about what might be called, to paraphrase the Bush administration, the Finnish education miracle.

The question on people's minds is obvious: how did Finland, which was hobbled by a deep recession in the 1990's, manage to outscore 31 other countries, including the United States, in the review by the Organization of Economic Cooperation and Development last September? The rankings were based on reading, math and science tests given to a sample of 15-year-olds attending both public and private schools. United States students placed in the middle of the pack.

The mystery thickens when one looks at what Finland is actually doing:

SUUTARILA, Finland - Imagine an educational system where children do not start school until they are 7, where spending is a paltry $5,000 a year per student, where there are no gifted programs and class sizes often approach 30. A prescription for failure, no doubt, in the eyes of many experts, but in this case a description of Finnish schools, which were recently ranked the world's best.

The policy wonk in me loves this story because it confounds ideologies held by both left and right (and me!) The typical prescription for success is simple bordering on crude: Start early, spend a lot, give kids as much individual attention as you can afford. In the U.S. these are the methods of the richest individuals and communities.

So how can a system that skimps on spending, time, and effort do so well? A certain former boss of mine would say that the answer lies in the homogenous population and relative wealth, both of which minimize social problems. Personally, I am far more inclined to cite the Finnish value of bibliophilia.

Thursday, April 08, 2004

NCLB: Unrealistic, Underfunded, Both, or Neither?

There's a spate of news stories and analysis on No Child Left Behind Act, the behemoth of federal involvement in American education. While the law deserves no small measure of criticism, most of the criticism that it is actually receiving is undeserved. Specifically, it is receiving criticism for being an unfunded mandate and for having unrealistically high expectations for student achievement. In these areas, NCLB is more or less not guilty. Funding is exceptionally high (see graph here on this page or see post below); it's not actually mandatory to participate in taking federal funds; and it is entirely reasonable for the Federal Government to insist on trying to get more in the way of student outcomes for its increased expenditure. (A more legitimate line of criticism might be that the bill does not do enough to empower parents, teachers, and school districts by dismantling certain bureaucratic edifices that hold back creative problem solving. But I digress.)

Jay Matthews explores the specious charges against NCLB here. The generally good Matthews also published a useful piece on NCLB back in November. It can be found here.

Rod Paige lectures Virginia on the virtues of NCLB: "But the days of free money are over--if Virginia takes the federal funds, then it must obey the law."

In a more analytical piece, chairman of the Massachusetts Board of Education James Peyser questions whether NCLB is really an unfunded mandate at all and comes to the conclusion that it's not.

Finally, he Maine legislature has actually barred the use of state funds to comply with NCLB.

Wednesday, April 07, 2004

How Stable is the DARE Consensus?

DARE, the Drug Abuse Resistance and Education, is the nation's largest anti-drug education program. It takes cops off the street and puts them into the classroom in order to inform kids about the dangers of durgs. Kerry Healey is the Lieutenant Governor of Massachussets and a skeptic of DARE's efficacy. (Many studies over the years have questioned whether the anti-drug program actually works/keeps kids off of drugs.)

Now it looks as though Lt. Gov. Healy will speak before a conference co-sponsored by DARE. Finally, the two sides of the debate are talking to each other instead of past each other. Who knows, this could get interesting.
High Stakes Testing--for Third Graders!--Stalls Georgia Legislature

The Georgia legislature is grappling over a provision in the state's education bill that would require third graders to pass a reading test to get into the fourth grade. Republicans are for the bill, Democrats opposed, and neither side seems willing to budge.

Other places have debated and implemented such measures too. Although it may sound harsh, I think that requiring reading test to enter the fourth grade is an unusually prudent public policy. A student who can't read by the end of third grade is falling behind badly and may soon give up on school altogether. Such a student would have severely diminished life prospects. Social promotion ruins lives.
More Measurement, Please

President Bush has just proposed to expand the NAEP ("Nape")--the National Association of Educational Progress also known as the Nation's Report Card. It currently tests 4th- and 8th-graders. President Bush's proposal would extend the testing to 12th graders.

(Whenever you see something that compares American students' math or reading scores over time, it's almost always either the SAT or the NAEP.)

It would be interesting to see what our 12th graders know when the graduate high school and are loosed upon the world.

Of course, the anti-standardized test crowd might not like the proposal. But is it really right to shoot the messenger just because you don't like the message?
A Digital Mirage

EducationNews.org has a reprint of a review from The New Criterion's review of Todd Oppenheimer's book about technology and education. Or should I say that the misuse of technology in education?

I haven't read the book but the review nicely encapsulates some of the mushy thinking that saw computers as a panacea for what ails American schools. The internet was supposed to change everything it touched; in some ways it did (shopping, e-mail) and in other ways it didn't (politics, education). One of the prime internet-related public policy issues of the late '90s was the growing "digital divide" that threatened to outfit well-off students with crucial technologys while leaving economically marginal students, well, marginalized. The book seems to do an excellent job of chronicling the efforts to fight the digital divide. I'm especially fascinated by some of the more aggressive spending initiatives: one small school district spent $37 million outfitting its 11 schools with computers in 1996. Another middle school in Harlem spent only $4,200 on books one year but $350,000 on computers. And computer expenditures for New York City almost sextupled between 1997 and 2000, going from $19.7 million to $118 million.

But what did all the money buy us? Has the information revolution in the classroom yielded radically smarter students, as the information revolution in business has radically raised productivity? Have test scores--especially in math and science, where computers are presumably most valuable--spiked since the internet boom? Not even close.

It seems that while students were supposed to be learning valuable information, they were really just surfing the web for sports scores and video game cheat codes.

No one denies that it is unconscienable for students to go through school without learning the basics of computer use. But it might be nice if they were to learn their multiplication tables, too.

There may be a way to yield the power of the internet to get students to learn much more--rather than, say, download term papers--but it doesn't look like people have figured it out yet. We should remember that brilliant people from Newton to Einstein, Guttenberg to Frederick Douglass were able to learn a whole lot of stuff without ever touching a computer.


Education Spending Soars

Senator Ted Kennedy, one of the architects of the federal No Child Left Behind Act, is complaining loudly that the Bush Administration is underfunding education.

But spending by the Department of Education has grown 69% between Fiscal Year 2002 and Fiscal Year 2004. That includes a 42% spending increase in No Child Left Behind's Title I for the most impoverished schools. Education spending has been robust for a quite a while. Since Fiscal Year 1996, the Federal Department of Education budget has grown by 118%. And since the first passage of the Elementary Secondary Education Act of 1965--of which No Child Left Behind is just the latest reincarnation--total spending on public schools has more than doubled (even when adjusted for inflation).

Useful facts on spending (including the ones quoted above) can be found here, here and here.

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