NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis

Critics Attack Gore's School Program

January 7, 2000

Vice President Al Gore says that if he is elected president, he would spend $115 billion of federal money over the next decade to improve public schools. Some $50 billion of that would go toward sending every 4-year-old to preschool.

His "Education Reform Trust Fund" package includes money for smaller schools and classes, after-school programs for failing students, subsidies to attract 75,000 new teachers a year, school construction funds and extra funds for bad schools that improve.

But critics point out that such a scheme would boost the Department of Education's annual $36 billion budget by one third and plunge the federal government even more deeply into managing public schools -- an approach which hasn't been notably successful in the past.

  • A Brookings Institution study finds his universal preschool proposal would cost $100 billion -- double Gore's estimate.
  • Forty-two states already have preschool programs and spending on them rose from less than $25 million in 1969 to nearly $2 billion last year.
  • State and school district officials fear a welter of new federal requirements -- Arizona, for example, must now devote 45 percent of its Education Department staff to oversee federal programs even though they account for only 6 percent of the state's spending on schools.

Critics ask, if the programs Gore proposes are so good, why can't the states raise their own money to set them up?

Source: Tyce Palmaffey, "Can Gore's Plan Improve Schools?" Investor's Business Daily, January 7, 2000.


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