More money for more of the same

If the feds spend more than $100 billion on the same old education policies, don’t expect anything to change, write Eric Hanushek and Alfred Lindseth on Princeton University Press blog.

While over $100 billion is being doled out for education purposes, most of it is unlikely to improve student achievement and may even impede progress toward that critical goal.  The driving force behind the stimulus package seems to be to spend the money quickly, meaning that past spending priorities and patterns will be largely replicated, rather than spending it effectively to meet our educational goals.

. . .  Over the past 40 years, we have almost quadrupled our per pupil spending (adjusted for inflation), but student performance remains essentially at the same level as it was in 1970.  We have poured money into compensatory programs for disadvantaged students, into lowering class sizes, and into introducing new programs and technologies.  These enormous expenditures have barely raised a ripple in student achievement according to the National Assessment of Educational Progress, commonly referred to as the “Nation’s Report Card.”

Less than two percent of funding is directed at “innovation and improvement.” In addition, the education secretary will get $5 billion in discretionary funds, which could be used to encourage ideas that challenge the status quo. Or not.

Hanushek and Lindseth’s forthcoming book is Schoolhouses, Courthouses, and Statehouses: Solving the Funding-Achievement Puzzle in America’s  Public Schools.

Show us (how) the money will be spent, demands the Christian Science Monitor. There are lots of ways for the stimulus money to go astray.

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  1. We are about to watch states pour 100 billion additional dollars into the status quo and get virtually nothing in return.

    I’m sure the Public Relations machines will breathlessly report how all the money was put to good use. But in the end, the NAEP, ACT and SAT data will not show any improvement.

    The big news to keep your eye on is how the states will furiously lobby to make what they used to get plus this two-year $100 billion windfall the new baseline for funding public education. The argument undoubtedly will be “how will we be able to see the fantastic results of all this additional spending if it is suddenly yanked away from us.”

    Anybody want to bet against this new mantra?

  2. thaprof says:

    On the other hand, teachers’ union bosses, public school administrators, and the politicians who skim the funds as they wash on down will do quite well. Perhaps they will give the economy the needed stimulus as they spend their swag?