Education Dollars, Well Spent?

, Malcolm A. Kline, Leave a comment

The president’s favorite think tank continues to press for more federal funding for public schools, even while acknowledging recent failures of such subsidies. “Large numbers of schools across the country are low performing and have been for years,” a recent report from the Center for American Progress(CAP) reads. “This longstanding and widespread problem painfully reveals that individual schools are not the only ones responsible for their performance.”

“The public school system as a whole is unable, and sometimes unwilling, to address the rot causes of dysfunction.”  Jeremy Ayers and Melissa Lazarin, two analysts for CAP, authored the report, released in April.

“Federal policy can play an instrumental role in rectifying the systemic failures that allow schools to flounder,” they aver.  They go on to make four recommendations:

  • “Target dollars to high-need schools and districts ready to reform so that limited federal dollars make the greatest impact
  • “Use in-depth data to identify the interventions that districts and schools should implement to achieve maximum results
  • “Build the capacity of states to support school-level reform
  • “Construct sensible evaluation, reporting, and accountability policies that support substantial school turnaround.”

What the Democratic think tank fails to do is show how all of the above differs markedly

from a recent Republican failure. “The most recent iteration of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act was named the No Child Left Behind Act, or NCLB, and it offered a much-needed

framework to distinguish underperforming schools from more successful ones,” Ayers and Lazarin write.

“The 2002 law also required struggling schools that failed to improve to undertake one of several actions to work toward improvement—reopen as a charter school; replace all or most of the school staff who are relevant to the failure to make progress; hire a private management organization to run the school; turn over operation of the school to the state; or undergo any other major restructuring of the school’s governance.”


“ Unfortunately, the majority of schools chose the option that allows for the most flexibility—and the least significant change.”


Malcolm A. Kline is the Executive Director of Accuracy in Academia.

If you would like to comment on this article, e-mail