offensive spending

A good post up by E.D. Kain about spending on education that discusses defense spending vs education spending.  And the spending is high for both:
There’s certainly an argument to be made that more federal dollars ought to be going to education and fewer to defense, but that’s not the one Liz is making. Her post makes it sound like a real pittance is being spent on education across the board. But Americans obviously do value their public school system, to the tune of many hundreds of billions of dollars a year. Yes, it’s true that the amount of federal dollars going to defense simply dwarfs federal spending on education. But the federal government plays only a very small role in American public education. States and local governments have always had a far larger role in this country, and have footed the bill as well. Many stimulus dollars went to help struggling states and school districts after the housing bubble popped and the financial collapse, and this was a good thing. States can’t borrow money like the federal government, and stimulus dollars for education makes good sense.
But in a typical year (and even during the stimulus) most education dollars flow from local communities into local schools. And as a society,we still spend more on education than we do on defense, or at least we have since about 1993. That’s changed, however, with the 2011 budget. In 2008 we spent about 128 billion more on education than we did on defense. In 2011, we’re spending about 115 billion more on defense than on education.
There’s certainly an argument to be made that more federal dollars ought to be going to education and fewer to defense, but that’s not the one Liz is making. Her post makes it sound like a real pittance is being spent on education across the board. But Americans obviously do value their public school system, to the tune of many hundreds of billions of dollars a year. 
For the record, we are spending even more.  Families are picking up an enormous amount themselves.
A Gallup poll found that in 2010, families are spending, in addition to the above, a lot of money trying to get the BA required to get a job now that good jobs are disappearing:
  • Both parents and students opened their wallets wider, tapped more scholarships and grants, and borrowed more, to pay for the escalating total cost of college, which survey respondents reported increased by 17% from the previous year. 
  • Parents paid nearly half (47%) the share of college costs for the 2009-2010 academic year and students paid roughly one quarter through income, savings, and loans. 
  • 15% of families used money from a college savings plan — up from 11% last year and 9% two years ago. 
  • To make college more affordable, most families reduced spending (73%) or increased work hours or earnings (48%), but a remarkable 43% of families report that their student lived at home. 
  • 82% strongly agreed that college is an investment in the future, and 71% strongly agreed that a college degree is more important now than it used to be. 
In a report from the Delta Cost Project:
Spending and enrollments. Spending is increasing in some higher education institutions, but not in the places where the majority of students enroll. Higher education is becoming more stratified. The fastest growth in enrollment has occurred in those institutions with the least resources and with the greatest evidence of actual spending cuts in the last few years — the public community colleges. In 2006, these colleges enrolled about 6 million students, more than any other institutional group, and the average E&R cost per FTE was less than $10,000, an amount less than any other type of college or university (see Figure 14).  
Spending and subsidies. All institutions can still claim that, on average, students pay less than the full cost of their education. However, the student share of costs is increasing relative to declines from institutional sources in all sectors except private research universities.  
The graduation rates are abysmal at many of these colleges and community colleges where they waste student's time and money by pushing them through unsupported and content-empty courses. And now that everyone either has a BA or has steep debt levels from attempts to get one, and still the good jobs grow scarce, the higher ed institutions acknowledge that perhaps we need another pathway to prosperity after all.

In fact, the quality and merit of the BA itself is questionable, as it is a manufactured degree that attempts to corner the market on good job access. Many jobs that used to require a high school degree now require a college degree but is it really necessary or is it institutional creep (akin to mission creep)? Schools, like the military, have no structural checks that stop them from the massive overreach they are engaged in now. We need to decentralize, democratize and anchor the schools to communities and people by moving toward voluntary learning centers providing learning services for families.

How we transform the military ... well, that's someone else's blog.
Post a Comment