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politics and education

There was an extremely huge debate today about education in America, and I’m not going to go into it, but it made me sit down and write out this idea that I would like very much to do.

I would like to issue a challenge to the government to double the education budget every year for at least eight years.

I would like to see a checks and balances system instated within the education system to make sure the money isn’t all going to administration but is being used to build new schools, hire more teachers at non-insulting salaries, and improve classrooms.

I would like this project to take place over the course of a minimum of a decade, at the end of which I would like a study to take a look at the education system, comparatively.

I would like this to be a grass-roots campaign, a challenge to the government asking them if they’ve got the balls to do it. I would like the people who have expressed frustration over the current education to stand up together and throw the idea in the government’s teeth, and demand that it happen.

I may be forced to become a lobbyist.

8 Comments

  • Trip

    Of course 2^8 = 256, so unless education is currently less than half of one percent of all spending (which it may be; I don’t know), that’s just not possible. (“I have here a chessboard. Please put one grain of rice on the first square, two on the second, four on the third…”)

    Well, okay, total spending could be increased, but probably not by a large factor. Even if it could be quadrupled, education would have to be less than 3% of current spending to still fit within that final budget.

    Now, improving education would almost certainly enlarge the economy, but not for some time; the biggest gains wouldn’t show until the kids starting school when your program started graduated and were in a position to affect total suckage. Pessimistically, that might not be until the people currently running things are in rest homes or cemetaries, which could be like fifty years.

    None of this is to say that increasing the education budget would be a bad thing!

  • kit

    Okay, to be fair, I used ‘double’ fairly randomly: Trip’s right; the education budget is so pathetic it might require far more drastic measures than that. I haven’t got any idea how much is really spent on education, but doubling it —

    — well, it’d be a /start/, anyway. And yeah, maybe it wouldn’t be enough, but it wouldn’t *hurt*. And again, yeah: I’m looking at a long-term plan here, which is against the moral fiber of our government, or something. (Hell, of the American people, most of whom don’t seem to be able to look past tomorrow, or at the most, next week.)

    But I do believe that a decade could make a difference.

  • Trip

    Er, what I actually meant is that multiplying the education budget by 256

    would probably make it larger than total budget. If you had a real number for education budget divided by total budget, then perhaps some of the qualifiers could be removed here.

    Also, from a comment Emily made, the difference between a good school district and a suckful school district is less than a factor of two in $/kid. I would expect that’s because you have to have a certain amount to have a school district at all, and only the amount above that minimum goes to not sucking.

    Or something.

  • Ted

    Actually there would be economic gains as soon as the money was awarded as construction and hireing of teachers would begin. Also more teachers means more money going into a towns economy as they need homes, cars, and food. All of these things add up quickly if you are hireing hundreds of new teachers and building or adding onto exsisting schools.

  • mary anne

    and just to play devil’s advocate…

    where would this money come from? higher taxes? from the exisiting budget? how would you persuade the population to support the increased taxes on the order of which you are suggesting? if from the existing budget, what would you opt to not pay for in order to cover the education expenditures?

  • kit

    Re: Mary Anne’s comments:

    Flat tax. :) I’m a big flat-tax advocate.

    Actually, my preference would be to talk them out of spending an additional $28B (last year’s education budget) on the military (do we really need another B2 bomber?) and spend it on education instead. I think education is considerably more useful in the long run to preventing wars than a standing army is. Not that an army isn’t a good thing to have, but I think the amount of money spent on it is absurd.

    However, I still advocate a flat tax.

    Re: Trip’s comments:

    This is why I want a checks and balances system. There does need to be some money (lots, even) to run the school district. I’d just like to see it done efficiently and well, rather than ending up bloated with too many administrators. I most emphatically don’t want to choke school districts out of existence. I want them to have the money they need to be well-run so kids can get a decent education.

    Sometimes being an idealist is hard work.