Commentary by Pete du Pont

Host intro: President Clinton wants to spend billions on education. Commentator Pete du Pont of the National Center for Policy Analysis says it's money wasted unless we spend it on the right thing.

Since federal aid to education started in the '60s, we've funded Head Start, Title I, the Job Corps, Aid to the Learning and Physically Disabled, Vocational Education and more. Test scores have gone steadily downward. Our response? Spend more. In education, nothing succeeds like failure.

I have two objections to the president's plan. First it's the crime bill dodge: spend billions until 2001, then when the programs are running, nothing in 2002 -- when the budget's supposed to be balanced.

Moreover, the system itself is broken.

We measure students achievement relative to their classmates, not by an external criterion.

And teachers are expected to pass students no matter what, even if it means lowering everybody's standards.

Students should a demanding nationwide standard, not against each other. Then, scores would be an accurate reflection of what they've learned. Teachers can stop being judges and go back to being coaches.

Next, apply the same standards to teachers: promote and reward the ones who show skill at teaching, not just grading. And give parents and students school choice, so they can seek out the best teachers and programs.

With those reforms in place, federal expenditures will be money well spent. Finally.

Those are my ideas. And at the NCPA, we know ideas can change the world. I'm Pete du Pont, and I'll see you tomorrow.

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