A front page article in yesterday’s Wall Street Journal, “Biggest Changes in a Decade Greet Students in Classroom”, discusses many new and recent developments in K-12 education. The controversial Common Core, with tougher math and reading standards, has been adopted by 45 states. A total of 41 states have agreed to link teacher evaluations to test scores or other student achievement measures and 15 states use, or plan to use, an A – F grading scale to rate schools. Last year there were 5997 charter schools, up from 2559 during the 2002-2003 school year.
What all of this means is that states are hotbeds of educational experimentation. Meanwhile Congress is trying to figure out how to replace the unpopular No Child Left Behind law which was enacted in 2002 and has been renewed on a year by year basis since it expired in 2007. Both the Senate and the House are currently considering legislation to give individual states more flexibility in figuring out how to increase educational success.
The fiscal implications of this whole movement of educational reform and decentralization are huge. The U.S. Department of Education has over 100 separate programs for K-12 education alone, involving massive duplication and inefficiency, with a combined budget of $100 billion per year. A smaller total amount of money could be given directly to the states in the form of block grants devoted to education. The states are able to spend the money more effectively than the federal DoE and at less total cost. Conclusion: better results for significantly less money.
This helps reduce the deficit!