Sunday, March 8, 2020

Education Spending Up, SAT Scores Down

                They say a fool and his money are soon parted. It now appears that money is creating more fools.
                Federal funding for education has risen dramatically in recent years, yet it is obvious students aren’t any the brighter for it. Spending on Pell Grants, tuition assistance for low-income students, more than doubled from 2002 to 2016 and reached nearly $30 billion in 2019 alone. There is talk of doubling even that prodigious figure. Moreover, Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden has a plan to allow students to use their Pell Grants for non-tuition expenses such as groceries, clothing, travel, video games and, almost certainly, bongs and strip-club outings. The amount of cash lavished on Title I Grants, given to school districts with large numbers of low-income students, has skyrocketed as well, approaching $16 billion in 2019. Federal funding for special education has grown by 60% since 2002 and is now over $12 billion annually. Additionally, Head Start programs provide pre-school and family services funding to, you guessed it, low-income families…to the tune of about $10 billion a year.
                Considering the staggering prices most colleges charge for tuition these days, it would appear the only way to afford to send your kids to them is to be poor!
                It wasn’t until 1965 that the federal government started bankrolling local public schools across America, via the “Elementary and Secondary Education Act,” part of LBJ’s War on Poverty. But neither the ESEA nor the ever-expanding college grants have made the young scholars any smarter. Quite the opposite, in fact. What do we have to show for the trillions of taxpayers’ dollars we have spent on education? Here are the College Board’s own SAT test results:

                Average SAT scores, 1967:
                Reading/Verbal: 543
                Math: 516

    Average SAT scores, 2016:
                Reading/verbal: 494
                Math: 508

                A precipitous 49-point drop in language scores and a relatively slight drop in math scores? We would have been better off if the feds had robbed us of all that money and bought a few trillion lottery pull-tabs to distribute in schools. Even though the feds get the money for lottery pull tab payouts from us as well, and pocket a cool 30% or more, at least we’d see some of the money coming back to some of us…and wouldn’t be dumber for the experience.
                As it stands now, most of the money the government takes in from sales of lottery tickets goes to education, too, though many millions of dollars go towards state programs for those with gambling addictions. This makes perfect nonsense. Yet more money for education. And we can see how well this half-century-long spending spree has worked by the falling SAT scores… and the ever-increasing numbers of folks who spend a significant amount of their money and time buying government lottery pull tab tickets and hoping for the best. But we can take solace in the knowledge that some of the money governments spend on promoting and providing gambling opportunities is eventually going into programs to help people kick their gambling habits. This is quintessential government “logic.”
                Taxes, education spending, gambling? Someone else once said, “You pays your money and you takes your chances.”
                Must’ve been a college graduate.

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