Dear Future President,
Given the option, how much of the federal budget would you spend on educating this generation’s children? As a student, I would choose to spend at least 15%. I imagine you would try to do the same. Somewhere around 10% possibly. What’s crazy is that last year, the government thought they only needed to give 4.2% of their 3.6 trillion dollar budget to schooling. With so much money to spare, one would think the government has more money to invest in what will in short time be the majority population-wise. Even though the state governments distribute money themselves, they seem to do it with a bias towards larger districts. With this amount of money, in combination with how much of it seems to be wasted every year, it is unacceptable to think that only four percent goes to our next generation. The federal government needs to start directly funding education to a greater extent.
As I’ve said previously, last year, the federal government spent only 4.2% of their annual budget on education, while state governments do better with an average of 30%. This does not mean that schools are rolling in cash, most of this money goes to paying wages. So little money is left over that in order to do any projects students will be interested in, a rather large fundraiser is required. There’s no possible way that the government has no money to spare, when we wasted so much of it. Eric Pianin states in the Fiscal Times article “7 Ways the Government Wasted your Money in 2015”: “Coburn wrote in his final report documenting what he considered $25 billion of wasteful spending in practically every major department and agency.” This means that what we spent on education last year is a small fraction of how much seemed to be wasted. This matters because so much money seems to be essentially thrown down the drain, while public schools struggle for every penny they get.
Now, you’re probably thinking something along the lines of, “More money does not necessarily mean higher grades.” Current research says quite the contrary. In the Washington Post article “When Public Schools Get More Money, Students do Better,” Max Ehrenfreund argues “...a 10 percent increase in the money available for each low-income student resulted in a 9.5 percent increase in students' earnings as adults. A public investment in schools, they wrote, returned 8.9 percent annually for a typical pupil who started kindergarten in 1980.” This shows that students can perform better almost synonymously with the increase of funding for their schools. The more well educated citizens there are in the U.S., the better off we are as a society.
I can see, and understand, the problem with this solution. What about all the government programs that we rely on? What about national defense? We won’t have any money left to support the current population. That’s not necessarily the case though. There’s two reasons this is the smart decision to make. One being that the more money citizens make, the more money the government makes from taxes. The other reason being that well-educated people can fix problems often reputed to be government related. Whether it be energy shortage, natural disaster, etc. People can do amazing things under the right circumstances, and a good education is the key part of putting them in those circumstances.
I’m not going to give you the exact numbers, as I am just one mortal man. But I do believe that we have more money to give when it comes to a decision like this. It is definitely in our power to subsidize the next generation. The future looks bright, why not support it?
Sincerely, Brennan S.