Now, we can all agree that an American population of thinking individuals with a broad and accurate knowledge base and excellent problem-solving skills would be a major economic factor. One can even imagine an education system based on sound principles which might do a better job of educating the People if it had more money. However, the present American education system gives no evidence that spending more money on education has any beneficial effect upon the knowledge base of Americans and on their development of critical thinking skills. Let us examine the recent history of total spending on education:
Since 1981 there has been an almost 6-fold increase in education spending in the U.S. To be sure, if we believe that education spending should be proportional to the GDP, then this is only a 23% increase in spending as a proportion of GDP. In 1981, education spending was about 6.4% of GDP and in 2010 it was 7.9% of GDP. However, the student population has not grown at anything like the rate of the growth in GDP, so one should be able to expect an equal level of educational results with a decreasing fraction of the GDP being devoted to education. The trend is clearly in the wrong direction.
There are very fundamental reasons why the massively increased spending on education and on a per pupil basis has not resulted in any significant increase in student knowledge and thinking skills. In almost every community, the local school labor unions assemble a slate of Board of Education members who appear to have good education credentials and their election is backed by lots of union money. This slate wins almost every position on the school boards. Because of this and the power of the teachers unions in also greatly influencing the election of city and county officials, the schools are managed for the benefit of the teachers labor unions, not for the education of the children. Increasing the pay and benefits of teachers who are blue-collar union members unable to even negotiate their own pay and benefits with their employer, guarantees that few of them will have the teaching skills, knowledge, self-confidence, and managerial skills needed by a professional educator. Union members are not picked and not rewarded for their teaching professionalism. Of course, as so often happens when a con is being performed, teachers present bogus certifications proclaiming them experts in teaching.
We have government-run schools specifically because Progressives saw them as a means to indoctrinate children to believe that big and socialist government was needed and moral. Of course a government-run school could be counted upon to advance the never-ending quest of governments for power. Such government schools could be counted upon to subvert the American Principle that government should be highly limited and only act to protect the equal, sovereign rights of the individual to life, liberty, property, the ownership of one's own mind, body, and labor, and to the pursuit of personal happiness. Thus, government-run schools have become increasingly anti-American even as they became the dominant force in the education of American children. The general viewpoint of American government-run school teachers is well-aligned with the socialist and extreme environmentalist viewpoints of Obama. It is opposed to a healthy and robust private sector in which Americans should be free to exercise their freedom of association to cooperate with others to achieve their self-chosen goals. The government-run schools are generally bastions of Progressivism and opponents of Capitalism.
Despite the large increases in education spending, we have not seen an increased ability of American young people to perceive reality and understand it. In fact, they are more and more removed from reality and less and less capable of performing real productive work in the private sector without more and more massive training efforts by private businesses. Few students graduate with a proper respect for those with the skills and motivation to produce in our society. Few are able to communicate well and solve problems well. Despite our spending more and more and spending far more of our GDP on education than does almost any other country, we keep losing ground to other countries in rankings of educational attainment. It could not be more clear that we are throwing our education dollars into a black hole.
Marcos Cordero in an article called The Link Between Unemployment Rates and the Lack of Qualified Professionals in America notes that
The Defense Department found that 75 percent of Americans age 17 to 24 are not qualified to serve in the armed forces. In fact, 30 percent of the high school graduates who take the Armed Forces Qualification Test, a test of basic reading and math skills, fail it.
A very fundamental reform of American education is desperately needed and it will not come from government. Governments are only eager to increase their power and politicians are easily bought by the massive teachers union money accumulated as the government automatically deducts union dues from teachers paychecks. Labor unions and government increasingly see their interests to be largely in common and the interests of students and good governance are not now able to compete with them. Only when the People understand these problems and massively rebel will there be any real hope of fixing this problem.
But most of the American People are largely in a feel good mode on education. Because labor union members provide children with inflated grades, most parents think their child is doing well in school and they are inclined to assume that that means that they are actually learning. The labor union policy of easy grading and of placing few demands on students lulls the parents and students to sleep. Until parents and students wake up to the fact that they are being poorly educated and heavily indoctrinated in socialism and extreme environmentalism, America will continue to go downhill. Obama is happy to push us down that hill.