With literacy rates among high school graduates ever more of a mystery, educators are worried about…defense spending on education.
Never mind that the Department of Defense is one of the few federal agencies experiencing funding cutbacks, anti-military teachers are worried about what is left of the Pentagon’s budget. “In 2010, the most recent year for which data are available, the Department of Defense (DoD) was administering more than a dozen different programs and spending close to $50 million on K-12 outreach targeting the STEM fields of science, technology, engineering, and math,” Seth Kershner writes in Rethinking Schools, “a nonprofit publisher and advocacy organization dedicated to sustaining public education through social justice teaching and education activism.”
That is a big number, until you realize that total spending on K-12 education comes to about a half a trillion dollars, according to the U. S. Department of Education. Moreover, the Pentagon’s budget is about that same amount, according to the White House. Nevertheless, it should be noted that, even within the federal budget, defense spending makes up 18 percent of the total, according to the Congressional Budget Office.
“One of the DoD’s largest K-12 programs is the Army Educational Outreach Program (AEOP), which consists of at least nine distinct STEM educational programs,” Kershner reports. “During the 2011-12 academic year, the AEOP reached nearly 53,000 students.” Also a large number, until you realize that, according to the U. S. Census, 77 million children are enrolled in K-12 in the United States.
Yet, in a way, Kershner has a point: the troops sure could use that money.
Malcolm A. Kline is the Executive Director of Accuracy in Academia.
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