Excerpts from: Education Reforms . . . or Union Jobs? What the stimulus really stimulates. By Chester E. Finn Jr. & Frederick M. Hess
The Department of Education reported the other day . . . Washington spent almost $68 billion more on education in fiscal 2009 . . . What has all that extra money actually bought? The main answer, trumpeted by the Obama administration in a new 250-page document, is jobs, jobs, jobs. . . It’s a fact that employment was an explicit purpose of stimulus funding . . .
Primary- and secondary-school enrollments have risen by about 10 percent since 1970, but the teacher rolls grew by 61 percent during the same period — an addition of some 1.4 million instructional personnel. . .
Let’s at least acknowledge that all these added employees have not boosted the performance of our schools and colleges. . . Eric Hanushek estimate that substantial gains in pupil achievement would follow from (permanently) ridding K–12 education of the weakest 10 percent of today’s teachers — even if that means adding a few pupils to the classrooms of those who remain.
To be sure, the $4.5 billion in “Race to the Top” money that remains to be committed in 2010 . . . could yet disintegrate into superficial compliance, canny grant-writing, and political arm-twisting . . .
The teachers who are beneficiaries of the grants are surely grateful. Their unions are undeniably pleased. But this is not the audacious change that was promised — and that is needed. Indeed, the 50 million young people who will end up repaying these 97 billion borrowed dollars might want to inquire about a refund.