The 65% Solution

George Will comes up with one of the best ideas for education reform I’ve seen in some time: mandate that 65% of all educational spending actually goes to the classroom:

Nationally, 61.5 percent of education operational budgets reach the classrooms. Why make a fuss about 3.5 percent? Because it amounts to $13 billion. Only four states (Utah, Tennessee, New York, Maine) spend at least 65 percent of their budgets in classrooms. Fifteen states spend less than 60 percent. The worst jurisdiction — Washington, D.C., of course — spends less than 50 percent.

Under the 65 percent rule, Arizona, which spends 56.8 percent in classrooms, could use its $451 million transfer to classrooms to buy 1.5 million computers or to hire 11,275 teachers. California (61.7 percent) could use its $1.5 billion transfer to buy 5 million computers or to hire 37,500 teachers. Illinois (59.5 percent) would transfer $906 million to classrooms (3 million computers or 22,650 new teachers). To see how much money would flow into your state’s classrooms, go to

The bigget impediment to quality education in this country isn’t a lack of spending, we spend a considerable amount of education — it’s an entrenched and arrogant bureaucracy, corrupt and wasteful unions, and a severe lack of reform. A common-sense solution like ensuring that a large majority of school funds actually go to schools is one that can have a transformative effect on education. It only makes sense that money that is earmarked on educating kids should be spent on educating kids, not padding the salaries of some administrative flack that only sees a student when they pay one to mow their lawn. Bureaucracies do not educate kids, teachers do, and teachers should have first priority over educational funds.

9 thoughts on “The 65% Solution

  1. It never ceases to amaze me how conservatives continue to expect public schools to be utopian bubbles surrounded by the Third World subculture that includes our narcotics prohibition, the defection of nearly all quality low-skill and semi-skill jobs to the Third World and the revolving door of immigrants are schools are supposed to magically absorb. I know matters like these could never even reach the radar screen of George Will and Jay Reding, who believe America’s biggest domestic problem is that the wealthy are overtaxed. Choose to recognize the problem or not, but the schools could get 95% of all education funding dollars and it’s not going to improve the test scores of the hundreds of thousands (if not millions) of public school students who can barely speak a word of English but are being shuttled from location to location along with their parents to appease corporate America’s “cheap labor on demand” philosophy.

    The only thing that amazes me is that America’s public schools operate as well as they do with the constant gauntlets being thrown at them. The longer the public education system is villified by the right-wing machine, however, the less likely good people are going to choose to work in the business for $30,000 per year. But judging from Will’s relentlessly disdainful past comments on the entire function of public education, it’s pretty clear that his desired outcome is an actual failure of the system he has unconvincingly tried to prove to us as already broken.

  2. Yes, because as we all know, the Democrats are leading the charge on immigration reform, right?

    Virtually the only people to question the unchecked flow of aliens across the border have been conservatives – David Frum, Victor Davis Hanson, Michelle Malkin, et al. Hillary Clinton is only making an issue of it because it’s currently politically expedient for her to do so.

    As bad as President Bush’s non-amnesty amnesty policy is, it’s nothing compared to the Democratic desire to throw open the borders and have a permanant underclass to exploit politically.

  3. Jay,

    “. . . Democratic desire to throw open the voters . . .”

    While I assume you meant “borders” not “voters”, you’re probably right in either case.

  4. “. . . Democratic desire to throw open the voters . . .”

    While I assume you meant “borders” not “voters”, you’re probably right in either case.

    *sound of head slappage…*

  5. The Democrat and Republican party establishments are both addicted to immigration, even if disempowered sub-groups in both parties would like to see tighter controls rather than looser restrictions. Whatever becomes of our official immigration policy, the pipeline of ESL students flowing into our public schools accounts for the vast majority of student performance problems being seen in most “failing schools.” Blaming the schools, the teachers’ union or the “educational bureaucracy” for this largely ignored external force is tantamount to blaming the bandage for causing the wound.

    Of course, acknowledging this unpleasant reality undermines George Will’s ultimate goal of eviscerating public education and thus expanding the education of students into the realm of the pay-if-you-wanna-play “ownership society.”

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  7. Why does everyone accept as gospel that our schools and education system suck? Somehow, we are able to have the best university system in the world. Where did those students come from? Mostly, from U.S. schools.

    OK, just trying to rattle some cages and challenge some assumptions. But there is not doubt in my mind that if a student desires an education, he can get it in the public schools, right next to his peers who prefer to ignore homework and critical thinking while waiting for the responsible to send in their tax money to fund the wealth transfer payments to the irresponsible.

    And anyway, after years of complaining about education, what has it gotten us? Significantly increased budgets, a fatter and happier education bureaucracy, worse test scores, worse results. And Mark is right, it’s not just about funding, but about some fundamental societal problems. But he’s wrong to blame it on immigrants. The blame lies with the no-responsibility culture that the Democratic party has been building since the New Deal.

  8. winston, I’ve studied student performance stats here in Minnesota for the last decade or so. Almost without exception, the bottom quintile of schools have immigrant populations above the state average. The town where I currently live has student body comprised of more than 40% immigrants (and a student mobility rate of more than 25% per year….no coincidence), and performance ratings have been in freefall over the last two decades when the immigrant population has soared. Now I suppose this could be construed as “blaming immigrants” for declining school performances in said districts, but it’s pretty much common sense that a social system that shifts around immigrant students like the one in my district and thousands of others nationwide will harm the aggregate of student performances. Certainly if I emigrated to Mexico or Cambodia to study in their schools, I would perform considerably worse than native students and the net effect would be lower test scores there than there would have been if I was not there. It’s pretty sad when the political correctness culture has us so terrified that people in the know are unwilling to even suggest this reality as it pertains to American public schools and immigration.

    Bottom line: we have to ask ourselves which is more important. Do we value a quality public education system that can only be maintained by the middle-class culture born out of post-New Deal social and economic policy? Or do we value the continued resurrection of Gilded Age employment practices where labor costs and regulations are held down in a third or more of American jobs through a relentless influx of politically disempowered immigrants who bring their limited English proficiency children with them? It’s pretty obvious that we can’t have it both ways.

    Also, could you elaborate a little on this “no responsibility” culture you broadly outlined as the source of education’s problems?

  9. Jay,

    Excellent job on the website. I like it. And I’m glad to see that someone other than myself wrote about this article. In fact, you did a better job.

    God bless ye for appreciating George F. Will.


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