Sure proof of the failure of the country’s education system is the fact that Americans, the casualties of that system, could listen to President Obama’s remarks on education in his 2013 State of the Union speech and not laugh him out of the hall.
In his speech, Obama dished out the standard “education is the key and the government needs to spend more” drivel. But those whose critical skills were not damaged by the government institutes the president purports to improve will see the fraud to which parents and students have been subjected to for decades.
Obama’s laundry list of policy proposals starts with a new entitlement: pre-school for all. He also wants our system to graduate “high school students with the equivalent of a technical degree from one of our community colleges, so that they’re ready for a job,” an idea that has been floating around for decades.
Obama wants “tax credits, grants, and better loans” to help kids go to college; he already has orchestrated a quasi-takeover of lending to college students and has relaxed loan repayment terms. And he wants to fight the high cost of higher educations by ensuring “that affordability and value are included in determining which colleges receive certain types of federal aid.”
These might sound like sound policies on the surface. But listen closely. They really sound like a broken record. Presidents have been making proposals and promises about education for decades but the results have been poor, with good money thrown after bad.
Let’s start with George H.W. Bush. In his 1989 State of the Union address, he declared that the “most important competitiveness program of all is one which improves education in America. When some of our students actually have trouble locating America on a map of the world, it is time for us to map a new approach to education. We must reward excellence and cut through bureaucracy.” He then proposed new federal initiatives to be managed by federal bureaucrats. And he asked for more money.
In his 1993 address, Bill Clinton said of schools and teachers, “We must give them the resources they need to meet high standards, but we must also use the authority and the influence and the funding of the Education Department to promote strategies that really work in learning.” He singled out, for example, Head Start, a program aimed at helping pre-school disadvantaged children. He sought more government management of education to make up for all the past failures of government-managed education. He argued that “money alone is not enough.” And then he asked for more money.
In his 1997 State of the Union address, Clinton said, “Looking ahead, the greatest step of all, the high threshold of the future we must now cross, and my number one priority for the next four years is to ensure that all Americans have the best education in the world. Let’s work together to meet these three goals: Every 8-year-old must be able to read; every 12-year-old must be able to log on to the Internet; every 18-year-old must be able to go to college; and every adult American must be able to keep on learning for a lifetime.” And he asked for more money.