Michael Barone
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How many times have you heard Barack Obama talk about "investing" in education? Quite a few, if you've been listening to the president at all.

In fact, Americans have been investing more and more in education over the years, led by presidents Democratic and Republican. But it's become glaringly clear that we're getting pretty lousy return on these investments.

That's been evident at the K-12 level for a long time. Teacher unions and education-school types have had custody of most of our public schools for more than three decades, during which test results and high school graduation rates have been mostly stagnant.

It has come to the point that Democratic politicians like former New York City Superintendent Joel Klein, past and current Chicago Mayors Richard M. Daley and Rahm Emanuel, Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa and Newark Mayor Cory Booker have taken on the teacher unions.

Obama's education secretary, Arne Duncan, deserves credit for doing a bit of this, as well. All this, despite the fact that teacher unions funnel millions of taxpayer-funded dollars into Democratic campaigns.

On higher education, Democrats and many Republicans as well have followed the same course as on public schools: Shovel in more money, in this case in the form of Pell grants and subsidized student loans.

College and university administrators have been happy to scoop up all the money by rapidly raising tuitions and fees. Higher-ed expenses have been rising much more rapidly than inflation for three decades.

And what has the money been spent on? Some of it presumably goes to professors in the hard sciences and the great scholars who have made American universities the best in the world. Well and good.

But many university administrators have other priorities. The University of California system has been raising tuitions and cutting departments. But, reports John Leo in the invaluable Minding the Campus blog, its San Diego campus found the money to create a new post of "vice chancellor for equity, diversity and inclusion."

That's in addition to what the Manhattan Institute's Heather Mac Donald calls its "already massive diversity apparatus." It takes Mac Donald 103 words just to list the titles of UCSD's diversitycrats.

The money for the new vice chancellorship could have supported two of the three cancer researchers that the campus lost to Rice University in Houston, a private school that apparently takes the strange view that hard science is more important than diversity facilitators.

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Michael Barone

Michael Barone, senior political analyst for The Washington Examiner (www.washingtonexaminer.com), is a resident fellow at the American Enterprise Institute, a Fox News Channel contributor and a co-author of The Almanac of American Politics. To find out more about Michael Barone, and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate Web page at www.creators.com. COPYRIGHT 2011 THE WASHINGTON EXAMINER. DISTRIBUTED BY CREATORS.COM