Mr. Biden gets a “D” on education
America’s public schools had a very rough year thanks to the coronavirus. The Biden administration has pledged to get kids back into classrooms and has put tens of billions of dollars to work on making it happen.
Is that money doing the trick? Or has it made things worse?
The Pacific Research Institute’s Lance Izumi writes that Biden’s open wallet strategy gets a “disappointing ‘D’” for the semester:
…Biden’s big bucks have no conditions on them—he simply shoveled money at the problem.
Georgetown University researchers analyzed the largesse that Biden provided to the public schools and found “few limitations on the funds.”
For instance, 20 percent of the total amount of funding is supposed to address the learning loss of students. Yet, “as a practical matter,” said the researchers, “districts could justify almost anything,” including “adding more staff.”
“Honestly,” they concluded, “we’re challenged to find something that districts couldn’t spend their money on.”
So, when Biden and the feds offer free cash with no strings, the public schools have steered that money, not to students, of course, but to the adults within the system.
The Georgetown researchers said that so far, they have seen a lot of spending on things such as “thank you payments to staff” and plans to hire more teachers and non-teaching staff. Alarmingly, they found, “Not much in here for students,” “Lots of ‘as-usual’ spending,” and “Lots of one-size-fits-all vs. targeting to high-needs kids.”
For parents and the public, much of this swamp feeding frenzy is taking place under cover of darkness, with “very little transparency at this stage into the planning process.” Further, the researchers warn, “We’re hearing it’s ‘Procurement-palooza’ in many districts” and “Contracts are being negotiated with little public visibility.”
That’s not just disappointing, it’s sowing the seeds for more problems. All the more reason we need more, and more robust, school choice programs in which the money follows the kids…not the adults.