Program talent scout

Lisa Snell compares cutting ineffective education programs to bouncing contestants on American Idol.

Unfortunately, while Bush tries to play the role of brutally honest Simon Cowell – sending programs packing and sticking to his cuts – it is likely that Congress will be much more like Paula Abdul, saying kind words and keeping ineffective programs alive. True to form, the Senate recently added $5.4 billion in education spending to its budget.

Congress has a long history of continually funding questionable education programs. The 2005 appropriations bill contained over 1,200 education pork projects, according to the Heritage Foundation: $450,000 of taxpayer money for a Baseball Hall of Fame outreach program using baseball to teach students distance learning; $25,000 for the study of mariachi music; and $725,000 for the Please Touch Museum in Philadelphia, to name a few.

. . . A cable news channel recently ran an emotional story on plans to cut Even Start, a 15-year-old, $225 million federal literacy program for low-income families. Three separate evaluations have shown the program is not succeeding.

Federal funding is addictive for schools.

About Joanne


  1. rouxdsla says:

    What about Head Start? The day care program for poor and not so poor folks.

  2. Not to mention DARE, the anti-drug program that’s become a small conglomorate despite a uniform record of failure.

  3. Tom Paine says:

    Don’t forget the teacher’s unions. A safety net, so even if congress wises up and stops the pork, education money is still frivolously wasted. Don’t you just love whole groups of educators devoted to improving their own lives at the expense of students in public schools like me?

  4. Doesn’t fall into the same category.

    Besides, what would you do about it? Outlaw the unions? I’m no fan of the teacher’s unions but they’re just a perfectly predictable and entirely legal response to the average teacher’s desire to get paid more, as much more as possible.

    Any direct action, i.e. passing a law, to get rid of teacher’s unions is deeply into “throwing the baby out with the bathwater” territory.

  5. Tom Paine says:

    Well, I gave you an inch and you took a mile. Did I say that I wanted to outlaw teachers unions? No. I just said that I don’t like them. As for their legality, I don’t think you should be able to force someone to join a union if they don’t want to. Yes, they don’t have to get the job, but what choice do they have? I find it odd how they claim to represent the teachers, but you can’t withdraw your support if you want to.

  6. There are twenty-two right-to-work states and, to the best of my knowledge, they aren’t notably different in terms of continuing support of wasteful programs. So, if you hold unions responsible for the wasteful nature of public education, what’s left but to outlaw them?

    After all, there isn’t all that much difference between right-to-work and closed-shop states in terms of public education wastfulness. That means that either unions cause wastefullness even where their power is significantly circumscribed as in the right-to-work states or unions are not the cause of public education wastefullness although they probably contribute to it.

    I subscribe to the latter view.

    As far as the inherent hypocrisy of the teacher’s unions…get used to it.

    The political necessity of portraying themselves as public benefactors outweighs considerations of honesty. After all, this is people’s livelihoods that are at stake and you can’t expect people to put their livelihoods at risk if a little, white lie, a white lie it’s very attractive to believe, serves to help you hold onto that livelihood.

  7. “Federal funding is addictive for schools.”

    Federal funding is addictive for ANYTHING. I’ve seen it firsthand: because THEY didn’t pass the taxes involved in collecting it, legislators at the state and local levels regard federal money as if it magically appeared from out of the sky, rather than having to be taken out of the pockets of their constitutents.