GECON200-Topic #1: Education and the Budget

President Obama’s 2011 State of the Union address covered several macroeconomic issues. In his speech he tried to focus on broad topics like growth, education, and innovation. The “Race to the Top” (“RTTT”) program was hailed by President Obama as a fundamental education reform that will shape the future of our economy.RTTT is a federal program that is meant to provide incentives to states for improving educational outcomes. President Obama also called this our generation’s “Sputnik Moment” which is a call to improve our science, math, and technical training over the next several years. In order to improve our educational system we will likely need to spend a fair amount of money. The “No Child Left Behind” (NCLB) act passed during the George W. Bush administration has largely been seen as a failure, and recent reports have shown that science education in particular has lagged behind. The NCLB emphasis on improved test scores and graduation rates has led to teachers focusing on teaching students to pass tests and promotion without cause.

Politicians have spent a great deal of time emphasizing the federal government’s various budgets. President Obama proposed a freeze of the discretionary non-military budget for five years. However he also noted that the discretionary non-military budget is only a fraction (about 12-13%) of total government spending (this is the $520 billion in the lower right corner). In order to truly reign in spending, the federal government needs to address the problems of Medicare, Medicaid, Defense spending, Social Security spending, and other programs known as “entitlements.” While our federal government has run persistent budget deficits over the last several years, state and local governments must typically balance their budgets annually (meaning their revenues must balance with their spending). One of the things that we must consider is that the federal government does not control most education spending, but rather education is funded at the state and local level. The left leaning Center on Budget Policy and Priorities released a report showing that most states are actually cutting spending on education as states are facing budget crises of their own. Newly elected Senator Rand Paul has proposed cuts to federal spending on education to save money over the next decade. So, if Obama proposes to increase high school and college graduation rates, either states and localities need to reform the system, or the federal government needs to provide incentives to change. The right is hesitant to give more power to the federal government on education, and give the power to states to make education decisions. However, states are cutting education funding  at this time.

Questions to think about:

  • When we think about education, innovation, and growth, you must consider the costs to providing these benefits. What do you believe the U.S. government should do about improving education, and at what cost (giving specific numbers)? Avoiding anecdotes about personal experiences, you can make broad statements about a state or local program that you think has been an effective use of state or federal funds.
  • If states are cutting spending on education, and the federal government is also considering cuts to education, how do you believe we can provide better educational outcomes? Does money matter with regard to education?
  • Do you believe that it is more important to balance the federal budget or provide better education? If you think education spending needs to be increased at the federal level, how do you propose to distribute this money? Do you think that the federal government needs to play a role or do you think states should be left alone to decide how much money to spend on education?
  • You are free to answer any other question you want, but it should be relevant to this discussion.

34 thoughts on “GECON200-Topic #1: Education and the Budget”

  1. Personally, I believe that education should be given more money through the federal government to the state governments. Everyone in the media is always talking about how China’s and India’s economies are soon going to grow larger than the United States’ economy. We don’t, as a society, value education as much as we should in this nation. Other nations push their students very hard to get they’re work done, and in a growing, competitive market, we have to step up to the plate and meet the demands of the future. Obama talked about cutting spending to cut the national deficit, but he also made promises to spend to fix roads and the health care reform bill. I agree that health care does need reform to help those without health insurance, but we shouldn’t cut spending of education to fix the health care problem and we can’t keep spending. So we should cut other “entitlements,” and programs that are proven not to work in the federal budget and open new programs such as legalizing marijuana or sports betting. States need to get themselves out of deficit themselves to help the federal government get out of its own deficit. “A national legalization effort would save nearly $13 billion annually in enforcement costs and bring in $7 billion in yearly tax revenues on marijuana sales, according to a study by Harvard University economist Jeffrey Miron.” (Segal 2010) This way states don’t have to cut spending on education and we can continue on for a prosperous future in this country.

  2. In terms of what is more important in the long-term, educational improvements and a corresponding increase in spending for education is essential to the enduring health of the nation. While balancing the federal budget is certainly a critical source of concern for today’s politicians, education can be viewed as an investment in future generations which will only continue to prove itself as a vital element of economic, political, and social health both within the United States and globally. As President Obama noted in the State of the Union on Tuesday, the United States has recently fallen to 9th place globally in terms of college graduates, and nearly a quarter of the population has no education past high school. Education is, and will continue to be, a major requirement of employers for future jobs. With so many people concerned about a wavering job market, it should be clear to both the federal and state governments that education is one aspect of spending which should be preserved, if not improved, rather than cut. Again as President Obama remarked, the many teachers who are members of the “baby boomers” generation are now retiring, leaving nearly 100,000 jobs to be filled or created. Many of these jobs in education are planned to emphasize math, science, and technology, which will help to bolster America’s lagging capabilities in each respective category. The government is creating programs such as Race to the Top (RTTT), which have led to 40 states showing marked improvement in education. In RTTT, governors and local officials form innovative plans to advance schooling in their state, and are in turn rewarded with the government with funding. Such incentive programs are far more progressive and productive than No Child Left Behind, a product of the Bush administration, which rather than rewarding schools for good performance, punished schools for inferior performance. These schools were often those most in need of assistance, thus “backtracking” their progress. Federal programs such as RTTT should continue to flourish, providing state governments with the best of both worlds: power to regulate and control education within their jurisdiction, while enjoying the “invisible hand” of the federal government as an incentive to continue to improve.
    Money is essential to the success of students. Money goes into funding everything from an adequate supply of desks and chalk to federal aid for impoverished students wishing to better their lives by attending college. According to one source, however, “for elementary and secondary education, federal spending accounts for only about 9 percent of total funding.” This leaves state and local governments to fund the remaining 91% of educational funding. Under the current economic crisis, it would only make sense for the federal government to increase their involvement in public education in order to prevent cuts in funding by these local governments from resulting in a further decrease in American education in relation to the rest of the world.

  3. @PJ Kaiser
    I especially like the suggestion for legalizing marijuana and/or sports betting as an alternative to cutting education budgets. Each of these would provide vast amounts of profit for state governments while at the same time alleviating the federal government from spending unnecessary funds on relatively inconsequential pursuits (smoking pot and gambling).

  4. In terms of education what it really comes down to is whether teachers actually care about their students. In a recent study of 24 different colleges, results showed that 45 percent of students showed no major improvements in areas such as critical thinking and writing (Harrison 1). I believe this is due to the fact that a lot of professors at universities are only concerned about their own research and just push their students through the motions of the grading system. The teachers’ lack of care for their students goes on for K-12th graders as well. While money does play a large part in a functioning education system, the biggest thing that matters is whether or not the teachers in these schools really care if their students learn, or if they’re just trying to raise their test scores so they can be rewarded by Race To The Top program. In fact, researchers believe that a good grade school teacher can have a huge impact on your lifetime earnings in the job market. My overall point is that schools need to have stricter interviews when hiring new teachers as a good or bad teacher can make or break a student’s future education path.

  5. There is no doubt everyone believes that the United States needs to tighten its belt and reduce the enormous debt that it so ineloquently finds itself in, but at what cost? Education? Cutting the budget on education will undoubtedly lead us down a very self destructive path. President Obama mentioned, many times, that the U.S. needs to “win the future”. Without a greater emphasis on educating ourselves and the young people, this nation will have no future. There is no doubt that the U.S. is being left behind in the fields of math and science around the world, but pulling the plug on opportunities to provide more assistance in improving teacher quality, will only keep us behind in these fields. In the long run, our young people will be the ones to get us out of the extremely deep financial hole. The fear of the government gaining too much power and trying to take over is irrelevant in providing education to young people who will eventually inherent the mistakes previously made by the people who were in charge in the past. That fear only prevents us from growing as a nation. When you get down to the nuts and bolts of it, there should not be any budget when it comes to education. President Obama discussed the development of programs, such as “Race to the Top”, which encourages incentives to schools to provide better teaching instead of just forking out government cash. President Obama is improving new incentives to promote better education, “to all 50 states, we said if you show us the most innovative plans to improve teacher quality and student achievement we’ll show you the money.” It is important to note that education is not just in the classroom and the teacher’s responsibility but also the parents. Providing education should be a group effort from everyone. As important as it is for a teacher to provide homework, it is just as important for the parents to turn the TV off and tell them to get a pencil out. Educating our youth should be a top priority building the future and denying that education will only keep us in the past. Cutting off the means to better education of our citizens is like cutting off the thumbs of every citizen, how else will be able to pick ourselves up?

  6. Education unfortunately is getting worse in America. The fact is, students aren’t interested in learning and teachers can’t make it fun. More kids would rather play video games, text message, go on facebook, tweet, or watch TV. Reading books and listening to teachers all day has many students disinterested in learning. Throwing money at the problem and hoping it gets fixed won’t do anything until someone can find out how to improve the learning atmosphere in schools. Some money should be given to all schools, but not to be used on bonuses for the administrators, bigger TVs in the classrooms, healthier food for the cafeteria, or high tech equipment for non-educational parts of school (cafeterias, gyms, parking lots). The money should be used for increasing teaching materials for teachers, installing a mandatory class for parents to attend before each new school year to teach them how to prepare their children for the upcoming year and keep them on track, and increase pay for teachers who can demonstrate proven success from their students. Creating an atmosphere of respect in all schools could be a huge step. In 1994, all schools in Long Beach, California required students to wear school uniforms. After this rule was implemented, school crimes dropped 76%. Proponents say that school uniforms decrease fighting over clothes, are convenient for parents, and give students a sense of common identity. Although students may not like the idea, clothing choices separates the wealthy and less fortunate kids in schools. If a friendlier atmosphere can be created in our schools it can only lead to more success among everyone

  7. At this point, I think it is equally important to balance the federal budget as well as to provide better education. Since the national debt is so high, we need to monitor our budget more closely to prevent us from falling even further into a debt that really will be impossible to repay. We should also be educating people of the future on our past economic mistakes so they won’t be repeated. Furthermore, new situations are arising that differ from the past’s economic activity, as evidenced in the New York Times article on economist Ben Bernanke. “Although he knew the experience of the 1930s in his sleep, he was, in truth, unfamiliar with the exotic mortgage instruments that were failing now” (Corbett, 67). Education on modern trends is also essential so that we can become familiar with the economy and propose solutions to unforeseen problems. Also, states have a variety of different factors that play into their budgets and some aspects may require greater attention and spending than others. Therefore, states should be the ones to decide how much money they want to spend on education. For example, states with a greater population require more schools to be built and may want to spend more on educational facilities. The quality of colleges vary from state to state and in turn, influence tuition rates.

    Corbett, Sara. “Can Ben Bernanke and the Fed prevent a recession.” New York Times 20 January 2008: 37-68. Print.

  8. If education is seen as important for the country, both state and the Federal governments need to start making it the priority. While there is no easy or obvious place where money could be shifted from to education, somethings need to be done.

    I think that while consequences are much more motivating than rewards, a combination would be the best solution. One way to raise money for education is to tax those who do not graduate high school. Those who receive a GED or do not receive any degree (GED or high school) by a certain age could be taxed on their income. This would tend to be a lesser amount of money as non graduates would probably receive less income and have less to tax. For more incentive to graduate a tax cut could be given to those who graduate high school and another for those who graduate college. This would be similar as good student discount for car insurance

  9. The current state of our union is not a pleasant one to analyze; the unemployment rate as of Dec. 2010 was 9.1 %, the national debt is around 14 trillion dollars, and the graduation rate is approximately 75%. One of the major topics in President Obama’s State of the Union address earlier this week was education. Obama linked the next decade of employment to require education above a high-school diploma, but how can some dropouts get hired if the graduation rate from high school is around 75%? I don’t believe the answer is to cut education spending at either the state OR the federal level; even though the government only spends a small fraction compared to the states.

    The newly elected governor of Virginia, Bob McDonnell, has already decided to cut education spending. One of the side effects leads to students and/or parents having to pay the sum of $80 per AP test. Some families can’t afford it which can lead to students not having credits going into higher-level education, and that can lead to more time required to graduate. Ultimately, this means some not being able to finish their degree, and not having that education required to land a job, further stalling the unemployment rate. Of course, that is only one small factor in this whole scheme.

    Cutting the spending on a government level can harm it, but not as much as at a state or local level. If the government cut just $12 billion a year, that can remove some of the scholarships used to keep middle and low class students enrolled in school, along with some subsidies for student loans. Removing those really just kill a bunch of incentive to try and earn money. Education really is the best investment this country can make.

  10. Money does not matter as much in regards to education as the system of educating itself. The “No Child Left Behind” act (NCLB) was a failure because of its focus on grades, which caused teachers and students to focus on increasing test scores and graduation rates. The point of going to school for an education transcended into a competition over grades. As seen in the New York Times article “Smart Child Left Behind,” the National Assessment of Educational Progress tracked achievement changes in 4th, 8th, and 12th graders on a national level. “In eighth-grade math, the lowest-achieving students made 13 points of progress on the national-assessment scale from 2000 to 2007 — roughly the equivalent of a whole grade. Top students, however, gained just five points.” (Loveless and Petrilli, A23) This shows that the achievement range has become narrower, which at first seems like good news until the realization hits that achievement has not actually gained, but that the distribution of grades has altered the perspective. More hands on learning should be brought up in schools. Labs are an example of ways for students to show their comprehension and understanding of the material. If employed, a new employee is trained to perform certain tasks and gains from the experience and knowledge he or she now possesses. Instead of students declaring that they are only taking a certain class as a GPA booster, the focus should be removed from grades and more towards personal gain in knowledge of what they want to do. This would improve an individual’s knowledge and capabilities, which would overall make them more beneficial to the public at whole.

    Loveless, Tom and Petrilli, Michael. “Smart Child Left Behind.” New York Times August 27, 2009: A23. Print.

  11. Education in this country is viewed as more of an afterthought rather than the critical issue that it is. The United States is more concerned about current issues affecting the nation such as the war on terrorism, immigration, a damaged economy, and healthcare. As important and persistent as these issues are, education provides the backbone of this country in that educated people are crucial for the growth of the economy and the continued advancement of the United States as a world super power. Because states are continuously cutting education spending to reduce their deficits, I believe the responsibility of the majority of education funding should fall on the federal government. Republicans oppose this, saying that the government is already too large and that government should be smaller. All the talk about cutting education spending is a bit misleading, considering education spending has been steadily increasing over the last 14 years (Chantrill, 2011). A large reason why education spending has had to increase is because of technology advancements and schools adjusting to these changes by upgrading computer systems and other technologies. It is absolutely vital for schools to have these technologies because even though learning the fundamentals of math and science are important, computers and technology will be the tools needed to utilize those subjects in practical real world applications. There is no point in learning math and science if the expensive technology is not there because those technologies will forever be relevant in the industries of the United States.

    Chantrill, Initials. (2011, January 29). Education spending chart. Retrieved from

  12. I agree with what Alexandra said earlier that money does not matter as much as the system itself. I think that before we find a way to rework the budget for education, the system itself needs to improve. According to the U.S. Department of Education about 89.5% of elementary and secondary education funds come from non-Federal sources meaning that most of the burden is at the state and local levels. Stated within the overview for “The Federal Role in Education” section on the website for the U.S. Department of Education is, “Although ED’s share of total education funding in the U.S. is relatively small, ED works hard to get a big bang for its taxpayer-provided bucks by targeting its funds where they can do the most good.” In my opinion this proves that before money will be rewarded or budgets increased, new programs that will promote the success of students need to be created and put into effect. Since the “No Child Left Behind” act (NCLB) clearly had unintentional consequences, such as a new focus based solely on graduation rates and test scores, I believe that people like Rand Paul and Bob McDonnell are proposing to cut education spending because why waste money on a system that is not working? Before the issue of education budget cuts can even be considered, I believe that we as a nation and more specifically our state of Virginia need to find a reason for Rand Paul and Governor McDonnell to want to place money back into this system. In order to do this we need to find new techniques and ways of testing knowledge that can be implemented and replace the multiple choice tests that plagued our education system over the past years. In the New York Times article entitled “Standardized Tests Face a Crisis over Standards” Michael Winerip mentions a few of the problems standardized testing pose as well as outlining the conflicts Connecticut faced in trying to broaden their state tests to more than just multiple choice under the strict rules and budget of NCLB. This article just provides a glimpse into why NCLB was unsuccessful and needs to be reworked. In the end I believe it is not solely about money and budget cuts but about being creative with the budget you have in order to inspire children and to operate with a sense of success that will make people take notice and want to invest in and promote your achievements.

    “The Federal Role in Education” U.S. Department of Education. 29 January 2010. Web. 29 January 2011.

    Winerip, Michael. “Standardized Tests Face a Crisis over Standards” New York Times. 22 March 2006. Web. 29 January 2010.

  13. I agree with Mike J. on the fact that a good quality teaching style is a major component in the foundation of a good education. If teachers don’t challenge their students simply to keep the grades high and make themselves look good in the eyes of the school, then our future generations are being deprived of critical skills that public schools should be providing them with. We need good problem solvers who can come up with new solutions to fix our fragile economy and if students are given the answers, where will we get such people?

  14. Money does not always matter when it comes to education. If the state and federal government are considering/going to cut funding for education, there needs to be more incentives to help boost better educational outcomes. The “Big Three” is a nonprofit foundation including the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, Eli and Edythe Broad Foundation, and the Walton Family Foundation, that plans to reform education by providing public funding. However, according to the article, “The ‘Big Three’ of Education Reform”, these plans for education reform are not effective. A study was done by Stanford University and concluded that 83% of the schools that are receiving funding from this foundation are performing either worse or no improvement since the funding. I think that money does not always matter because it is the incentives that will help reform the system. With an increase in incentives the productivity and outcome should increase as well. I don’t disagree with public funding from the “Big Three” and I do think that it will certainly help with the addition of incentives.

    Levitt, Steven D and Stephen J. Dubner. “The ‘Big Three’ of Education Reform”. New York Times. Freakonomics. January 28, 2011.

  15. As society has changed and rapidly progressed from the time we were born, it is evident to see that education is slowly decreasing on the list of priorities for families and many students. It is interesting that this is our first blog because it was also a topic in the first couple days of my GENG 236 Survey of English Literature class. My professor, a recent graduate from JMU, noted how in a recent study he reviewed it stated that college students, on average, read a total of forty pages a semester between all five classes. To say I was shocked when he revealed that is an understatement. If this doesn’t send out a cry for education reformation I’m not sure what will. I believe that the movement to better education within the states should begin with the federal government. I also think it is a bit pathetic that President Obama has to create a plan such as his “Race to the Top” plan with the hopes of motivating teachers to educate students more efficiently. Teachers should be passionate enough about their own career and their own students to the point where they need no incentive to become a better educator. While education is mostly funded at the state and local levels of governments, a change must be made. If the funding of education was controlled at the level of the federal government, every state would be on the same page, have the same rules and guidelines to follow, and have a strict structure to follow. Money should not be a factor in whether education can grow stronger. Schools should be provided with useful resources (i.e., textbooks, chalk, desks) instead of money being wasted on plasma TVs in cafeterias. Strengthening our stance on education throughout the United States does not directly mean an increase in spending. Therefore, I believe it is possible to balance the federal budget all the while still providing better education throughout the country.

  16. If education is seen as important for the country, both state and the Federal governments need to start making it the priority. While there is no easy or obvious place where money could be shifted from to education, somethings need to be done.

    I think that while consequences are much more motivating than rewards, a combination would be the best solution. One way to raise money for education is to tax those who do not graduate high school. Those who receive a GED or do not receive any degree (GED or high school) by a certain age could be taxed on their income. This would tend to be a lesser amount of money as non graduates would probably receive less income and have less to tax. For more incentive to graduate a tax cut could be given to those who graduate high school and another for those who graduate college. This would be similar as good student discount for car insurance.

  17. Regardless of how much debt we are getting ourselves into, I think that the education of the up and coming generations should be our government’s top priority. Right now, the U.S is falling behind in education compared to a lot of other countries in the world right now. If we try to cut back on our education now and pay off our debt, we’re only going to fall further behind other countries. If we take the time and effort to really build up our education, then hopefully in a few years we can begin to really make a difference in our education system. I feel like Obama calling this a “Sputnik Moment” of our generation was a little too much, however once this project is seen all the way through it will have been worth it. Once we can take care of our education situation, then the government can make the national debt its top priority and deal with it without having to worry about the education problem in the country.

  18. In my opinion, money is very important for children to recieve a better education in America but also the attitude of the children have a high effect on the education they recieve. By cutting spending on education will put us even further behind India and China in the world of education. Money in education is important according to statistics, the more money a family and a school have, the less drop-out rates are and failure. A direct relationship with low income; more students will drop out. Lower income areas recieve less money for their schools, books and supplies, thus less resources to work with and to teach. An example of this is a true story acted out in the movie, Freedom Writers. Erin Grumell worked in a projects area where there was little money for the school and once Erin bought the supplies and resources needed, the students learned at a higher level and everyone in her class graduated. This is a reason why we need money in our education systems. I also believe that American schooling needs to be more strict with what they are spending all the money on and monitor where the money is going toward. Does every classroom need a flatscreen or should they spending that money on textbooks for the students to read? Also by lowering funds might lower the attitudes of teachers and which in effect might lower the effectiveness of their teaching. Lowering fund also lays off teachers because less money to pay the teachers. Money in our society is a huge incentive thus creating an incentive to use the money to further the education of our upcoming workforce.

    related sites:

  19. With states cutting spending on education, and the possibility of the national government to follow, I believe will hurt the high school drop out rate and quality of education even more that the nation is currently suffering. Obama stated in his speech at an American Promise Alliance event that 12 percent of high schools contribute 50% of the nations drop out rate. His idea of “pin-pointing” these schools with grants to help improve the quality of education and reduce the drop out rate is a great idea. But since there will be education cuts on state and federal levels, I believe that these grants long term will not help improve the drop out rate. With less funding, teachers will be of poorer quality. In my opinion, long term this will decrease the quality of education, which will keep the drop out rate from improving and potentially hurting it. Obama states that over the next ten years, half of all new jobs will require education. We simply cannot cut funding for education. The world we live in now is moving into a very technological society, which will, again create jobs that require education. If we cut funding for education the quality of education will decrease with a possible increase in the drop out rate.

  20. In Obama’s state of the union address he say’s “Think about it. Over the next ten years, nearly half of all new jobs will require education that goes beyond a high school degree.” He then goes on to explain that families are what instill the love of learning into children. I do believe that a child’s home environment does play role in their learning habits. If all parents could put in the effort and prove to their kids that learning is fun and get them into the habit of reading or doing work instead of sitting in front of the TV all day, it would make a tremendous difference. But the problem is how many families will actually do it. Many children don’t have great support at home as it is, what will happen to those children will they be left behind? Schools however can succeed if they have dedicated teachers who are willing to put in the time and effort. With budget cuts it will be hard to find teachers who are willing to put in all this effort for little compensation. Obama’s Race for the Top program is good incentive for teachers to work harder. Yet it is only going to provoke teachers to take the easy way out and just teach the answers to the kids to guarantee they do well. This is why in regard to education money does matter. If kids are our future then why not give them all the tools they need to succeed now.

    “Obama’s State of the Union remarks – CNN Political Ticker – Blogs.” CNN Political Ticker – Blogs. 30 Jan. 2011 .

  21. In order for the United States to once again flourish in innovation, I believe it should look to the past. Over a half century ago, the United States passed the G.I. Bill which provided further education for all veterans no matter their socioeconomic background. The bill greatly expanded the middle class and laid the foundation for the longest economic expansion in U.S. history (Murray, 2009). Why not use this same concept to provide opportunities for kids in our educational system? Many would think the lack of money. But through government research, it has been discovered that for every dollar spent on the G.I. Bill, our nation would have a return of five to twelve dollars in tax revenue and new economic activity (Murray, 2009). Some in prior posts have said the students of the United States lack motivation. I simply disagree. The same tedious methods of education have been used in the United States for centuries. One might ask, what new and exciting educational tools are being researched? Through investigation, Gina Burkhardt, CEO of nonprofit Learning Point Associates, discovered the U.S. Department of Education spends just 0.1% of its budget on research and development (Connif, 2008). That number is simply unacceptable. How can the United States expect the upcoming generations to innovate when the few elected refuse to give students the tools needed to achieve? I understand the last thing our nation needs to do is to spend more and add to the already growing deficit, but it is time to reform our educational system. Through a (do I dare say) innovative form of the G.I. Bill and an added effort in research and development of education, I believe our nation will be taking great steps in the right direction.

    Murray, V. (2009, June 18). Why not expand successful g.i. bill concept to k-12?. Retrieved from

    Connif, R. (2008, January 14). How to fix: education. Retrieved from wToFixEducation.aspx#pageTopAnchor

  22. In his State of the Union Address, President Obama displays that “nations like China and India realized that with some changes of their own, they could compete in this new world”, which led to these nations “educating their children earlier and longer, with greater emphasis on math and science”. This is a perfect example of how a national government can improve education. I believe that in order for education to improve at a national level, then the federal government has to step up and increase spending on education. Education has always been the responsibility of the state governments. But some state governments are obviously more wealthy and have more resources than others, leading to many schools in certain states lacking the same opportunities. For example, the state of Texas ranks last in the number of students that receive high school diplomas. If states continue to cut education funding and if Senator Rand Paul gets his way, then graduation rates are certainly going to decrease. That is why I believe that the federal government needs to take the matter into their own hands in order to ensure the stability of our future education.

  23. At this point in time, it should be a priority for the government to focus more on funding education rather than balancing the budget. Since the budget is already at a deficit of over one trillion dollars (1), the government better start improving upcoming generations because they are the country’s future. Money should not be a huge issue regarding education. Although it is easier said than done, all the education system really needs is teachers that are willing to stress the importance of secondary education and getting a degree. Students that realize the importance of attending college will hopefully be more dedicated to their work in grade school. Furthermore, when schools receive funds from the state, they should not waste the money on unimportant technology such as SMART technologies (2). Rather, they should pay more attention to funding the science departments since students are “failing to reach a basic level of achievement” (3). Since science and technology are both constantly improving, upcoming generations with a solid education in those fields could potentially be the key to a more manageable budget. Therefore, funding education should be Obama’s priority for his remaining years in office.


  24. I definitely think that the federal government needs to award the state and local governments more money to spend on education as a whole, but specifically high school and post secondary education. There are many counties and districts in Virginia that are having to make serious budget cuts due to the current economic situation and one of the first places to be cut, it seems, is education. I am from Loudoun County, the wealthiest county in the nation, and my senior year one of the budget cuts were that students now had to pay for their own AP testing. While many people would say that about $90.00 for a test is nothing compared to what you would be paying when you got to college, for those students taking 5 AP courses that would be on financial aid in college that was more than they could afford. I know one student personally that is not a freshman in college taking some of the same courses because she could not afford to talk all of those AP tests last year. So now, she is on financial aid and the federal government is paying for her to take classes that she has already taken and passes. However, I feel that if the federal government gave more money to the local governments to spend of educational needs, she may have not been in such a predicament because that budget cut may have never been made.

    In his State of the Union address President Obama said, “Over the next ten years, nearly half of all new jobs will require education that goes beyond a high school degree.” This statement is true and many of us agree or we wouldn’t be where we are today, however, this being the case, the government needs to provide more assistance and aid to the high school and post secondary educational systems.

  25. After reading all of the blog posts, one of the primary concerns mentioned was that America is falling behind in education when compared to the rest of the world. So, I must present the other side of this argument. I say, how big of a deal is it? In some other countries, such as Japan and South Korea, if you do not have at the least a diploma from a secondary education school, you stand almost no chance at being successful in the workforce of their economies. Yet, in these countries, it is quite frequent for their secondary schools to be very similar to our college system in what they teach, so there is not too great of a need for them to continue on in their education after secondary school. By the time they graduate high school, they know almost the same amount of information as we do when we graduate college. To bring the issue back home, however, I say that America has always been a place where it is believe that the ability to move about the social classes is as easy or as difficult as you make it be. Both of my siblings did not graduate college, and now they both live comfortable lives in the middle class. Is this unusual? I say no. I fully believe Americans can live comfortable lives no matter what kind of education you have. What I believe changes is how much work you must put into living comfortably. My brother worked nights at a chemistry plant for about 20 years before he was finally promoted to the day shift. (Yes he is much older than me.) So, you can skip college and live a comfortable life, you will just have to work tremendously harder to achieve the comfortable life. But are times changing? Is America, in an effort to improve our educational system, going to make it much more difficult to get a job without going to college? Only time will tell. I believe that we can all agree when I say that America has the single best college system in the world, (if you don’t believe me, simply look around and talk to the international students at JMU alone) but can we really force people to go to college? I say no. I say that you just better be ready to work hard if you don’t.

  26. Although the betterment of future education will play a large role in our future’s economy, I do not believe President Obama’s efforts will entirely put our country at an advantage over others in the future. Sure, President Obama may be looking towards the future because that’s what will allow the U.S. to prosper, but what he also needs to better in the economy is what is going on nowadays. In his State of the Union address, he informed us about many of the efforts to better the economy and education for the future; but what about now? It may take time for our economy to prosper, but it seems as though we have barely even stepped foot into taking the initiative to better this subject for the present. Although education may be the key to improving the economy, there hasn’t been much improvement for those of us in colleges and universities but rather for those in grade school. President Obama stated, “The future is ours to win” in his address but without its past there is not going to be a future. Most of his efforts for improvement focusing on scientific and mathematics education will require more than just improving standards for k-12th grade education of these two subjects. The progress of these two fields of study should also be improved for current college students as well. What seems to me is that present day curricula are becoming harder for k-12th grade students and many of these students aren’t grasping the concept that they will already have an advantage over others who graduated earlier. When they ask their older siblings for help, he/she [the sibling] may say “Wow you’re doing that now? I did that when I was in the __ grade” (usually pertaining to a higher grade than what the person who asked for help is in). So this means that those of us who have already graduated high school are at a disadvantage because we didn’t attain that knowledge earlier. So in conclusion, our efforts to improve education for k-12th grade students will allow for a better economy and more job opportunities in the future but we should also focus on bettering current college education so that these students won’t be at a disadvantage in the future. If we truly want the U.S. to have the best education, we should better it for all.

  27. The Bureau of Labor Statistics reported that in 2009 that almost 15% of unemployed Americans had failed to graduate high school. On the contrary, only about 2% of those who received either a Professional or Doctoral degree were unemployed. It seems obvious that America’s ongoing struggle with unemployment (one of the most severe lingering effects of the recession) has much to do with failing education systems. People in Nevada, for example, have become so lenient towards education: in 2008 less than 50% of high school students graduated (according to NCHEMS Information Center). As immigrants begin to consume more and more blue collar jobs, Americans are being left with fewer options. More incentives for youth to stay in school, achieve success, and further their education should be implemented. RTTT is an excellent program; however it is simply not enough. Truancy has become so prevalent in public schools; parents are now being prosecuted for their child’s absence. More pressure should be placed on both parents and teachers to further instill in children the value of a high-quality education. In addition, public schools should begin employing more staff to ensure educational goals are met. Actions such as decriminalizing marijuana, building more casinos, and legalizing sports betting all seem to be clever ways (if regulated properly) to raise federal and state revenue, however during sluggish economic times, effort should aim towards structure reform rather than money. As the Federal deficit increases year after year, it is becoming more important to focus on efficiency rather than money. Through forms of communication, teachers and professors should begin sharing more ideas on how to successfully relate to students. Efficient education is crucial to a secure future for coming generations of the United States.

  28. In his State of the Union address, President Obama said, “we want to prepare 100,000 new teachers in the fields of science, technology, engineering and math.” States will not fund this; as they are not competing with China or the rest of the world. Therefore, it is essential that the federal government continues and/or increases federal education aid. However, that brings in the issue of the federal deficit.
    In a new book “Academically Adrift: Limited Learning on College Campuses,” it is reported that through their first two years of college, students improve only slightly in critical thinking, complex reasoning, and writing. If college students aren’t learning, what are we paying thousands of dollars for? It’s as if we’re only here for a degree; basically a right to a five-figure salary. But that attitude isn’t the student’s fault. It is the fault of the educational system stressing to students the importance of a minimum grade on a standardized test. Therefore, the public education system needs reform, to move as far away from No Child Left Behind as possible. Instead, we need an educational system that better prepares us for college, the workforce, and the future. Along with reform, because reform will cost money, the federal government needs to continue giving educational aid to states. Yes, the federal deficit needs to be cut. But based on the current educational system, cuts must come from elsewhere, not our schools.

  29. It is obvious that two of the main focuses in modern day America are the budget deficit and education. We have had a budget deficit for many years but it has recently increased. America needs to realize that by cutting spending here and there is not going to releive us of this deficit we have been facing for so long. In my opinion, the only way that we can conquer both of these issues is by creating a smarter America as a whole. Yes, that is going to mean that was have to give more money to the federal government and they will distribute the money to the states as they see fit. At first glance this idea may seem rediculous but in the long run I believe it will leave our country in a better position to regain the stability that we once had. A smarter America will in turn lead to a greater standard of living for all. Now we are just seeing the rich get richer and the poor get poorer and i believe that in large part it has to do with education. You hear all the time that there is a disinigrating middle class and an increase in education could very well be the solution to this problem. I would also put into affect the proposal that Obama made about freezing government spending on military. Our military greatly exceeds any other military in the world. This money could be reallocated to education in order for us to get back on top of the world.

  30. There is a fundamental problem with mass education and pushing kids through the school systems within the United States. For our students to get to graduation day, yet still lack skills further contributes to our nation’s problems. The focus needs to start at the early levels to develop a curriculum that will ensure younger kids will have a solid understanding of the basic concepts of learning. Inability to due so, will cause failure down the road if not corrected. The current model of learning is funding the system of too many “average” students; with teachers and school systems in pursuit of getting pass fail rates up, ensuring further funding from the state and federal government. In this system are the students really learning to think independently, or just using a short-term memorization model to pass a standardized test? Recently 15 year olds from around the world took standardized tests in maths, reading and sciences, with the U.S. ranking no higher than 14th (Shepherd 2010). There is obviously a flaw in the current approach. Throwing more money at it does not seem to be the answer to solving the problem. Today, there seems to be basic premise in America that everyone who participates always gets a trophy and every child be glorified as an achiever or winner, when realistically not everyone can win at everything all the time. If a student has yet to achieve standards set for their grade level, then don’t move the child on, despite their education anguish or athletic ability. Socially they shouldn’t be deemed as a failure, but rather as a student who is taking the necessary means to correct and learn the information fully. Down the road, pushing lesser-prepared students on for the sake of them staying “on track,” can prove to be detrimental to their future success in the workforce and later contributions to the country. Encouraging the need for learning in the early years shapes an individual for basic study habits, time management, and a determined drive; all of which can aid toward their success as well as the success of the United States.

    The federal government has many issues to work over in our current economy, such as immigration, welfare, Medicare, social security, and defense spending to name a few. So, continuing to hold states more accountable, and having them manage balanced budgets; can help alleviate some of the pressure on the federal government. Certainly the federal side should remain a watchdog for education. As far as funding is concerned, money does matter to some degree, but not exclusively. Money attracts “better,” or “more prepared” teachers to come in and fill the gaps in the learning process. There is also a matter of pushing current teachers to get truly involved with students and develop an interest in learning early on that will stick with them. Shaping the young minds to be successful can have effects in raising America’s worldly rankings on learning, decreasing government subsidies, and even lowering crime. Lets make sure the kid is set up to succeed starting at an early age.

    The federal government has many issues to work over in our current economy, such as immigration, welfare, Medicare, social security, and defense spending to name a few. So, continuing to hold states more accountable, and having them manage balanced budgets; can help alleviate some of the pressure on the federal government. Certainly the federal side should remain a watchdog for education. As far as funding is concerned, money does matter to some degree, but not exclusively. Money attracts “better,” or “more prepared” teachers to come in and fill the gaps in the learning process. There is also a matter of pushing current teachers to get truly involved with students and develop an interest in learning early on that will stick with them. Shaping the young minds to be successful can have effects in raising America’s worldly rankings on learning, decreasing government subsidies, and even lowering crime. Lets make sure the kid is set up to succeed starting at an early age.

  31. I believe that we need to think about education in a slightly different way than Americans and President Obama addressed it in his State of the Union Address last week. Americans, as a whole, tend to worry about funding for schools and funding for education and whether it should be coming primarily from the federal government, or primarily from the state and local governments. We hear in the news that budgets for education are being cut and stripped down to just enough to “get by” and we also know how little public educators are paid, because it is still considered to be a woman’s profession and thus a secondary income. I think that the time and money spent discussing and contemplating who shall fund education could be much more well spent on creating more effective programs for training the educators. We want to have 100% AYP, we want to have the highest test scores, and all this has done is create teachers who teach to the test and who let students move on when they are not quite ready, creating students who have not learned much other than how to bubble in scantrons and narrow down the correct answer on a multiple choice test. With the implementation of the Race to the Top program, I do not see much changing, because the changes would be starting in the schools, and I think the changes need to start in the educating of the educators. If we spent more of our education budget on creating more qualified teachers, I think we would naturally see an increase in test scores due to actual, not perceived, learning.
    In addition, I have to disagree with President Obama when he urged young people, who are uncertain as to what they want to become, to go out and become teachers, “In fact, to every young person listening tonight who’s contemplating their career choice: If you want to make a difference in the life of our nation; if you want to make a difference in the life of a child – become a teacher. Your country needs you.” Having an influx of young people who are unsure of their passions becoming educators will only create a weaker system in which more educators are not passionate and not successful at their job- to build the nation. While we do need more teachers, we need more highly-qualified, intensely passionate, energetic and creative teachers to get the job done.

  32. long term goal, the reality of the matter is that things are so grim right now that we cannot risk the short term impacts in the name of an ideal objective. Obama rightfully pointed out in the State of the Union Address that recovery is slow while simultaneously our deficit is growing. This is an unsustainable policy. Thus, we should stabilize the economy first. Especially when the US is critically linked to other world economies, and thus our decline will harm everyone else (1).

    One short term solution, which would capture the benefits of education, like innovation, growth, and a high skilled work force, would be to expand high skilled immigration, specifically by increasing the H-1B visa cap. This is a visa for only those with a bachelor’s degree or higher in specialty fields like STEM, and these workers are critical to maintaining our competitive edge and domestic innovation (2). However, it is currently limited at 65,000 visas. Increasing or eliminating the cap would allow the US to reinvigorate the economy until we have the funds to responsibility invest in education. This competitive edge is crucial to our overall economic standing, making this particular policy a powerful alternative solution that captures the benefits of both education reform and financial reform because not only are these workers proven to be effective, but they also are critical to filling shortage of engineering talent in the US (3). Even in these times of unemployment, while there is a great overall unemployment, there is actually a worker shortage in these particular fields due to the skills needed (3). Thus, this to me seems like a logical interim action.

    1) David Caploe, “Focus Still On America to Lead Global Recovery,” April 7, 09 The Strait TImes

    2) Jeffrey Gower, “As Dumb as We Wanna Be: US H1-B Visa Policy and the ‘Brain Blocking’ of Asian High-Tech Professionals,”

    3) Kenneth Wilcox, “The Four Fallacies of American Innovation,”

  33. The connection of how things are and how education should be in upcoming generations’ to come perspective is inevitable yet predictable. The article examines important elements of economics and the economy; however, leaving out the ”how”. The point of Bush’s ‘failure’ as mentioned is perfectly relevant, in my opinion, since it could cause further success on the education part at least that would branch out to a healthy economy, system, regime and system of learning and takes the horizon to a different level of development whether witnessed before or not. However, if we are to discuss points that are as recent as the rebirth of the economy, we might as well indulge in the factors that shape the economy such as the US and China. The reason I mention this, is because of the statement “give the power to states to make education decisions”, which triggered the Mercantilist school of thought where the State should be responsible for the society’s maneuvering and since education is put into play in the article, discussing the schools of thought should be introduced and studied. Education is indeed a major root for all the good that should prevail and sustain in the long run, but the methods are somewhat more important. Does Mercantilism still exist in China and the USA today?

  34. I do not believe that improving our education is dependent upon increasing government education funding. The U.S. already spends more on education than many countries that score better than us in education such as South Korea and Finland. Education should be improved by restructuring it from within. We should follow the models of the countries that we want to catch up to.


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