The top six departments engaged in education spending and the amounts they spent in thousands of current dollars in 1965 and 2002 are as follows: Health and Human Services ($1,027,537 in '65; $22,858,490 in '02); Education ($1,000,567 in '65; $46,324,352 in '02; Agriculture ($768,927 in '65, $11,896,064 in '02); Defense ($587,412 in '65; $4,749,222 in '02); Energy ($442,434 in '65; $3,625,124 in '02); and Labor ($230,041 in '65; $6,364,200 in '02). Even after programs and spending had shown lack of results, only a very few were removed in the last 39 years.
It's the "one-size-fits-all, we-know-what's-best-for-you-mentality" of Washington that has some states complaining about the "No Child Left Behind" mandate that demands states squeeze students through standardized tests and achievement models into a mold designed by politicians and administered by bureaucrats. When these strategies fail, the government mostly does not end or change them. It throws more money at them.
One of the justifications for this socialistic redistribution of education money is the egalitarian objective of assuring the poor get their fair share and supposedly improve their chances of escaping poverty. But the Cato study again proves the failure of this thinking. Statistics show no correlation between the amounts of education money spent and a decline in the poverty levels in individual states.
As the Cato study concludes, the federal government should drop out of education and return the money and power for instructing children to the state and individual communities. Education achievement was better when it was practiced in the little red schoolhouse and didn't come as it does today from the big White House and its Cabinet agencies. The billions wasted on education since Lyndon Johnson's Great Society has been a financial and educational disaster, not to mention a violation of the Constitution.
Cal Thomas is co-author (with Bob Beckel) of the book, "Common Ground: How to Stop the Partisan War That is Destroying America".
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