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Many education reformists and educational advocates believe that we need more money in order to fix the public education system. Others say we have enough funding and resources. Is this true? Let’s take a look at the facts.

In the 1950’s, the federal government begin to largely subsidize the public education through the National Defense Education Act (NDEA). This was stimulated by the competition for global hegemony between America and Russia. According to the research of Jennifer Jolly, the NDEA was a response to launch of the Russian satellite Sputnik and the belief that Russia may have had a superior school system in regards to training scientists. The NDEA was to pump addition money into the school system to be used for loans, scholarships, and graduate fellowships. Jolly also explains that, “Title III of NDEA provided states matching funds to strengthen mathematics, science, and foreign language instruction, which included better equipment and materials, along with professional development for teachers.” Read Jolly’s article on the NDEA called The National Defense Education Act, Current STEM Initiative, and the Gifted.

Of course the NDEA wasn’t the beginning of federal support to education; however, it is the root of the focus on the STEM programs today. Before the NDEA, the federal government focused its support on agriculture through the Morrill Act of 1862. of 1862.

Federal Funding of Today

Note that the intention of the NDEA of 1958 was to expand and establish STEM programs to compete with other nations, Russia in particular.

Today there is a similar trend of federal priority in regards to education. In addition, the amount of federal spending on STEM programs have dramatically increased. According to Jolly’s research the NDEA spent $1 billion over the initial 4 years. According to the FEDERAL SCIENCE, TECHNOLOGY, ENGINEERING, AND MATHEMATICS (STEM) EDUCATION PORTFOLIO, federal investments in STEM programs was $3.44 billion in 2011. (Page 11, A Report Federal Inventory of STEM Education Fast-Track Action Committee, Committee on STEM Education National Science and Technology Council)

The purpose of this article is not to analyze all of the data in the report. The report does indicate three fiscal years of federal spending on STEM programs which includes billions of dollars each year.


The Results of Increased Spending

Certainly one could expect the academic levels in the areas of interest to increase as funding increases. In order to understand where America ranks against its global competitors, see the results of the Programme of International Student Assessment (PISA) in 2009. PISA assesses students in approximately 55-70 countries in three year intervals.

Also read PISA 2006: Science Competencies for Tomorrow’s World. This report explains how PISA evaluates science, math, and reading.

The following is an excerpt from them previously mentioned:

The number of students at Level 6 cannot be reliably predicted from a country’s overall performance. Korea was among the highest-performing countries on the PISA science test, in terms of students’ performance, with an average of 522 score points, while the United States performed below the OECD average, with a score of 489. Nevertheless, the United States and Korea had similar percentages of students at Level 6.
The excerpt points out that the United States has a low average in science despite having some high ranking students. A 500 average is good according to PISA

It takes additional research to know that the academic levels of America as a whole has declined since the federal government has increased its support. I cannot explain all of my finding in this article.

Note the following points:

•    Federal spending on STEM programming largely began in 1958
•    From 1958 to the present, this spending has increased
•    Academic levels have not increased in relation to the available funds
•    Based on the PISA, America is below standard academical


Money Isn’t the Answer

After decades of increased spending into education and support programs, it should be noted that more money will not bandage the public education system. This means alternative solutions must be made. The Institute for Democratic Education in America (IDEA) highlights and promotes innovative techniques and methods of educating young people. IDEA leads what they call Innovation Tours which are tours in schools that use innovative methods. I had an opportunity to participate in their New York Innovation Tour in 2011. The experience was nothing short of enlightening. As a young educator, I had no idea that such great work was taking place across the country. The work I saw stimulated me to create new innovative ideas of my own. As I understand it, this was the object of the tours, to promote and exchange ideas of innovative methods of teaching.

Rather than throw more money at an ongoing problem, federal money would serve a better purpose promoting the ideas that are working already and fostering an exchange of ideas.

by Bryant Muldrew

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Comment Preferences

  •  Except Federal money is ONLY 10% max of (7+ / 0-)

    educational funding.

    The rest comes from State and Local, where there are vastly different levels of funding.  Rich small suburbs have huge amounts of money and resources.  Large urban and small rural districts have far far less in resources.

    Don't look at the dollar amount per child, as right wing "reformers" always use.  Look at total budgets--see what's being spent on textbooks, infrastructure, technology, and all those things.

    "Nothing in all the world is more dangerous than sincere ignorance and conscientious stupidity." --M. L. King "You can't fix stupid" --Ron White -6.00, -5.18

    by zenbassoon on Fri Nov 23, 2012 at 10:03:18 AM PST

  •  On the other hand, obscene inequality in... (8+ / 0-)

    education funding, such that some affluent suburban districts have class trips to Paris, while poor urban districts have no heat, broken windows, no chalk, and have to share (outdated) textbooks between students arues otherwise.

    There surely are some school districts where 'throwing money at it' would be an excellent idea. Because we already know that throwing that same money back at billionaires is less than useless.

    •  Yes, this. (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      winsock, Ralphdog, mamamorgaine

      How about we try throwing money at it before we dismiss that as an option?

      Even where funding is more equal between low-income and high-income public school districts, that doesn't make up for the effects of generational poverty, inequality in early childhood education and home support, and other systemic and institutional forces that bring down lower-income public school systems.

      We need to address these inequalities—by throwing a hell of a lot more money at low-income public school systems and children in poverty, so that their schools and neighborhoods are significantly better funded than high-income public schools—before we state outright that "throwing money at it" isn't the solution.

      "When I give food to the poor, they call me a saint. When I ask why the poor have no food, they call me a communist." --Dom Helder Camara, archbishop of Recife

      by JamesGG on Fri Nov 23, 2012 at 10:43:57 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  In those areas where there is limited access to (0+ / 0-)

      resources, They must go back to story telling and audial learning.  When there is nothing to see with the eyes, they must learn to visualize in their minds.  
      Find the money for chalk so they can draw and cipher on the concrete.
      The nation is awash in paper books.  
      This is what happens as a result of extreme population density facing limited resources.  
      More money is equated with a better education because the resources are allocated by money.
      Paper is provisioned by the Koch Bro. and Big Agriculture feed them.

      •  Yeah. Cuz writing with sticks in the dirt will... (0+ / 0-)

        definitely prepare students for 21st century jobs.

        Money matters. Per capita school spending is an extremely accurate predictor of student performance. Affluent suburban districts have lots of money because of their immense tax base, and this huge structural advantage piles onto the equally huge advantages provided by wealthy stable families, home computers, plenty of household resources and so on. In poor rural and urban districts, the opposite dynamic is in play: a threadbare and collapsing tax base means per capita spending is pathetically low, and this hugely exacerbates the already disastrous mix of poverty, family instability, job insecurity, poor nutrition and bad health.

        Our obscenely unequal system of school funding piles on and greatly worsens existing socioeconomic injustice, simultaneously widening opportunity for the already fortunate and shrinking it for the already handicapped.

  •  Maybe if we consulted teachers instead of (7+ / 0-)

    the corporate sponsors of expensive testing and on-line courses and the paid spokespersons/sales people they send out to convince government officials, administrators and school boards to buy into these schemes..... we could get improvements much more efficiently.  I'm always surprised that experienced teachers are rarely consulted when it comes to educational reform.

    Gravitation cannot be held responsible for people falling in love. - Einstein

    by moose67 on Fri Nov 23, 2012 at 10:48:19 AM PST

    •  Old teacher here (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      moose67, qofdisks

      who taught math and physics for 35 years. Throwing money at me was not an answer. Throwing money at the families of some of my students would have helped a lot more. Once I had my basic equipment, all I wanted was graph paper and chalk. We made most of the weird stuff we needed (another lesson there, perhaps).
      I would have been very happy to see my students go home to an involved parent, have a nice dinner, do some homework and come to school rested, fed and unafraid. No one wants to talk about the real reasons for "sub-par" educational outcomes.
      Federal money was a very small part of my school's budget. State aid was about 12%. I used to advocate for my district to tell them to go screw, keep their money and we could go it alone. I mentioned a pay cut for teachers and administrators to accomplish this. I got a lot of strange looks.

      •  This is so true: (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        qofdisks, mamamorgaine

        "I would have been very happy to see my students go home to an involved parent, have a nice dinner, do some homework and come to school rested, fed and unafraid."  

        This is absolutely key to getting back on track.

        Gravitation cannot be held responsible for people falling in love. - Einstein

        by moose67 on Fri Nov 23, 2012 at 12:07:20 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

    •  "teachers are rarely consulted" (0+ / 0-)

      Well, teachers would have a bias on these issues. Common people feel they understand that quite well.
      These other folks are just trying to get the best testing and online courses into schools. Sure they cost a bit more but, hey, it's the private sector...they're just looking out for the children, unlike the biased, greedy teachers who took those jobs just to have stress-free short days and summers off.

      -- We are just regular people informed on issues

      by mike101 on Fri Nov 23, 2012 at 01:22:36 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  Experienced teachers are professionals and (0+ / 0-)

      their expertise should be respected.
      The problem is that teaching kids is limited in scope.  Teachers become experts of managing the kids but, they rarely maintain a proficiency at the loftier levels of their content area of expertise.  
      So, teachers and respective experts need to confer to try to come to good lessons and assessments.  Strict academics do not always make the best experts.  It is those that have various life experiences learning and working say, like our elderly.

  •  I wonder what a pie chart would look like (0+ / 0-)

    If you could compare pie charts showing what, exactly, educational spending per child was allocated to in 1970 versus 2011, I wonder what those pie charts would look like?

    Oregon: Sure...it's cold. But it's a damp cold.

    by Keith930 on Fri Nov 23, 2012 at 10:55:42 AM PST

  •  Keep education out of private hands. (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    mike101, mamamorgaine

    Education, like public safety, is to benefit society as a whole, and should not merely become yet another conduit for plutocrats to 'suckle at the public teat'.

    •  It is going private. (0+ / 0-)

      I plan to develop a series of physics lessons that I can teach online.  I will also tutor privately whenever I can.  
      I suspect that school facilities will start leasing classrooms by the hour.  The government will subsidize a basic educational package and then you will have to purchase along a stratified educational plan.  Scholarships would be available for the smart and the lucky.

      •  I have tried understanding your comments (0+ / 0-)

        but it is very difficult. I can only hope that the incoherent quality is due to the process of an intelligent mind running ahead faster than the written word can notate.

        The alternative explanation makes me fear for your prospective students.

        •  What I find most fearful is that rather than (0+ / 0-)

          unleashing an age of innovation and creativity in teaching, that all teacher private contractors would be constrained to teaching to standardized tests.
          This does not allow tailoring of knowledge according to the talents of the child.

  •  More funding is the answer (3+ / 0-)

    We need to hire more teachers and acquire more technology for our students.  These things cost money, but can dramatically improve education in the 21st century. But what do I know? I'm just a teacher with crowded classrooms and very little technology in my classroom, who hasn't gotten a pay raise in 3 years.

    "I'm a progressive man and I like progressive people" Peter Tosh

    by Texas Lefty on Fri Nov 23, 2012 at 12:01:52 PM PST

    •  I understand (0+ / 0-)

      As an educator, I understand exactly what you mean about needing more teachers... it's the more technology I don't agree with at all. This assumes that we as teachers cannot find alternative ways to convey educational concepts to our students. Technology is great, but isn't always practical. More technology may handicap our teachers in the future... The same is true about scripted lesson plans that comes from the excessive bureaucracy of curriculum. Some teachers don't know how to teach without a script...

      In short, much has to be changed about education

  •  U.S. Tops International Tests When ... (0+ / 0-)

    ... the exams are normalized for the fraction of test takers is normalized for child poverty.  Comparing cohorts in different nations by that standard the USA not behind.  This is a rigged comparison put forward without comparing similar groups.  

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