Education has been in the spotlight this week with President Obama's 30 minute interview on TV and the release of the movie Waiting for "Superman." It's no secret that the US as measured by test scores and achievement is lagging behind much of the world, and is not where it should be. The politicians answer to the problem is: spend more money. But looking at the above graph, it would seem that we've already have a dramatic increase in education spending with very little to show for it in terms of student improvement. So where is all this money going and why aren't we seeing the expected results from this increased spending? The answers are not easy, and the problem is a difficult one to solve.
One has to question just who is receiving the benefits of all this increased spending, the students or the educators? The argument that is constantly used to justify future increases is this massive increase in spending per student since the 1970's must be doing some good. I know that line of thinking wouldn't fly at any for profit business when a cost/benefits analysis is performed. But this is politics and government where the typical solution for failed programs is more funding.
Perhaps, paradoxically, the answer is that spending on education should be cut at all levels (federal, state, and local). This would force the education establishment to refocus on its basic mission, to educate our children, and might stimulate our educators out of their entitlement thinking to re-prioritize programs and policies in a way that might actually improve results.
Do you agree the problem is not a lack of funding? Where do you think the problems lie, and how do we fix the education system?