NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis


February 5, 2009

Congressional leaders recently unveiled a draft of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009. Widely touted as an economic stimulus package, the $825 billion draft legislation includes as much as $142 billion for education -- roughly twice the annual budget of the entire Department of Education. Should it pass, this legislation will dramatically increase the role of the federal government in education, says Dan Lips, a senior policy analyst at the Heritage Foundation and a senior fellow with the Goldwater Institute.

The plan would spread the funding among early education, K-12 and higher education programs, and in order to access the funding states will have to comply with a host of new regulations.  Setting aside the fact that increasing federal spending on education will not improve the economy, and that a federal bailout for state governments is irresponsible, there are a few more reasons that this plan is bad for states, says Lips:

  • Experience shows that more K-12 spending does not significantly improve educational performance.
  • Federal early childhood education programs have not provided lasting benefits to disadvantaged children.
  • School construction and modernization should not be a federal responsibility.
  • The proposal does not address waste in the Department of Education budget.
  • The spending package would prohibit school choice.

A dramatic increase in federal education spending and authority is the wrong approach for encouraging economic growth or improving American students' educational opportunities.  Instead of increasing federal spending -- and federal debt -- the federal government should help states meet current fiscal challenges by offering state policymakers greater ability to prioritize how federal education dollars are allocated to best meet their students' needs, says Lips.

Source: Dan Lips, "Federal economic stimulus plan should not include education spending," Goldwater Institute, January 27, 2009.


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