Time: Wed Oct 01 05:51:46 1997
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Date: Wed, 01 Oct 1997 05:25:03 -0700
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From: Paul Andrew Mitchell [address in tool bar]
Subject: SLS:  Education: The Real Budget Time Bomb (fwd)

>The following  article by Dr. Van Eaton of the Lincoln Heritage Institute 
>and Manager of the Economics Department of Hillsdale College outlines the 
>events that have been set in motion by the Congress and President.  For 
>additional information, or to read additional article on the status of 
>U.S. education  contact C. Grady Drago, President of the Lincoln Heritage 
>Institute, or go to the Institute's home page   
>http://members.aol.com/lhiadmof.  I also suggest you ask about the 
>GUARDIAN program.
> "Education: The Real Budget Time Bomb"
>By Charles Van Eaton, Ph.D., Chairman  of Lincoln Heritage Institute's
>Advisory Committee on Economics and Finance
>Almost immediately after agreement was reached on the broad outlines of 
>the FY 1998 budget, the president said, "This is the greatest increase in 
>spending for education in three decades.  Education will be the big 
>winner.  Education is at the very core of our new budget--an investment 
>which will carry us into the 21st Century." 
>I take this to mean that our president is getting essentially what he 
>wants in this budget. He has spoken of this budget as a budget which 
>preserves what he calls "our values."  Central to that value is more 
>spending on education.  Whether it's spending to help children read or 
>spending to make it possible for kids to go to college, this budget aims 
>to accomplish these goals. (I note that there is absolutely nothing wrong 
>with this. My concern is not with who got what, but whether what he got 
>is right for not just the country now, but for the future as well.) 	
>On education: If it actually goes through as he wants, the education 
>component of this budget--particularly the provision which provides tax 
>deductions and credits for higher education costs--will quickly become an 
>entitlement monster.  It will be almost impossible to eliminate even when 
>(not if, but when) evidence makes it clear that this provision will make 
>the matters worse rather than better.  Once begun, this subsidy coupled 
>with more spending on K-12 education programs, will pour billions down 
>what will quickly become a fiscal black hole which absorbs everything 
>which goes in without emitting any thing of substance. 
>Regarding spending on higher education via tax credits, there is a piece 
>of history far too often ignored: the more higher education is 
>subsidized, the more it costs.  The more it costs, the more it has to be 
>subsidized. (College administrators know enough economics to understand 
>the concept of "reservation price."  They know that when families are 
>being subsidized, they can raise their tuition charges so that when it's 
>all over the typical family will still have to dig a certain amount out 
>of their own pocket to cover the bill.  Subsidizing costs will only raise 
>costs.  It's a vicious circle.  This circle has to be broken.  Now is the 
>time to do it.  Someone of courage needs to stand on the floor of either 
>Chamber of Congress and say, "Not one dime more for education.  Not one 
>dime less because the demons who run the system have locked-in their 
>budgets, but not one dime more this year or any year in the future.  Not 
>one dime more because we all know, but have been scared to admit it, that 
>more money now cannot do anything good and would certainly do harm.  It's 
>time to starve the beast."   	
>I first entered the college classroom as a teacher in 1965.  I found 
>most of my students ready to handle the level of mathematics one 
>generally has to use in teaching economics.  In addition, I found their 
>writing and reasoning skills to be pretty solid. My students were not 
>top-of-the-class types because this was not an ordinary college crowd. 
>These were students who weren't quite ready for the rigors of full-time 
>college work.  This was evening college and most of my pupils held 
>full-time jobs during the day. 
>Now, in my 32nd year in the college classroom, I'm teaching young people 
>who come to our reasonably selective college from the top fifteen percent 
>of some of the better high schools in America. Yet I continue to find 
>that they are not one whit better or smatter than the kids I had long 
>ago. Indeed they are far less well prepared in mathematics and writing 
>than were my working-class southern students long ago in the days before 
>the birth of Lyndon Johnson's Great Society and the beginning of unending 
>dollars for higher education costs. 
>Federal spending on education of the type which exists today was 
>unknown when I attended college and virtually unknown when I began to 
>teach at the college level. There were federal student loan programs in 
>the early and mid-1960s -- largely a product of the scare which followed 
>our early failure and Russia's early success in launching a space 
>satellite.  Money poured from Washington to help train scientists for the 
>future space wars which everyone knew were upon us. Like all federal 
>spending, it spilled over into all kinds of programs, few of which had 
>anything to do with training scientists and engineers. Once on the books, 
>and once the colleges found their way to the trough, it grew, and hasn't 
>stopped growing. 	
>And from that point on, the cost of sending a kid to college has 
>continued to rise faster than the rate of inflation.  Indeed, if one were 
>to track their relative cost increases from the mid-1960s to the present, 
>one would find that both health care and higher education costs have 
>increased at about the same rate--and for the same reason: both have been 
>heavily subsidized by taxpayer money passed through Washington.  
>Kids do not read as well or as early as they  once did.  They are not 
>as computationally competent as they once were at the end of twelve years 
>of schooling.  They know less history.  They know little or no geography. 
> In the face of this our president and college administrators all across 
>the nation are crying for more support for higher education because they 
>can argue that college training is more important than ever. 
>Why is college so important?  College is important because high schools 
>have become so weak. High school has been weakened because junior-high 
>school has become so weak.  Junior high school has become so weak because 
>elementary school has become so weak.  Elementary school has become weak 
>because kids are having trouble learning to read.  Kids are having 
>trouble reading because they are being taught reading by methods 
>developed in colleges of education which seem to have had -- and which 
>will continue to have if the president gets what he wants -- more federal 
>money to play with in an effort to justify more of the federal money they 
>love to play with. Now our president wants more money to send kids to 
>college so they can volunteer to go out and teach kids to read by at 
>least the third grade.
>Kids used to routinely be able to read at the end of the first grade.  
>Kids in Wesley Elementary in Houston, Texas, read above norms at the end 
>of the first grade.  They also outscore other kids in the Houston system 
>in all areas be the end of the third grade.  But their principal and 
>their teachers are considered out of step by the Houston education 
>establishment -- indeed they have been attacked by the education 
>professionals who have come to their current level of destructive power 
>by virtue of all the federal money spent on higher education in the past. 
>Wesley Elementary serves black and hispanic kids.  Single-parent 
>families are the norm.  The principal is black.  So are most of the 
>teachers.  They use phonics to teach reading.  They use old fashioned 
>drill to teach arithmetic.  They use directed teaching methods -- the old 
>fashioned way of teaching. And they use discipline.
>All the federal spending in the past was aimed at getting rid of the old 
>methods still stubbornly used at Wesley Elementary.  Keep feeding the 
>monster with federal money and they may succeed in killing off all the 
>old fashioned folks like those at Wesley Elementary.  Then after more 
>billions some future president may call for more federal money to assure 
>that all kids will be able to read by the fourth grade.
>Wesley Elementary works not because we spend money on education. It 
>works because courageous people refuse to be intimidated by all the folks 
>whose power if fed by federal money.  The issue is not more money.  The 
>issue is starving the monster which is trying to devour the schools which 
>work.  It's time to stop feeding the education monster with more federal 
>money -- whether direct or indirect. I'm waiting for some conservative to 
>make this case in this budget.  But I don't think I'll hold my breath.   	 
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Paul Andrew Mitchell, Sui Juris      : Counselor at Law, federal witness
B.A., Political Science, UCLA;  M.S., Public Administration, U.C. Irvine
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