A new report from the Department of Education reveals that the Obama administration spent more than $7 billion on grants to improve low-performing schools…to little effect. In “School Improvement Grants: Implementation and Effectiveness,” the DoE confirms that the old Democrat standby – throw money at a problem and hope it goes away – once again failed spectacularly under Obama’s watch.
Though SIG grants were initially created under President George W. Bush, his administration only spent $616 million on the program. As part of the 2009 Obama stimulus, however, that number exploded to $3.5 billion. The federal government then spent an additional $500 million a year on the program.
That would be all well and good if the money had the desired effect. Unfortunately, it didn’t quite work out that way. In an interview with Fox News, Lisa Dragoset – a co-author of the report – said that the money did not lead to measurable improvements on test scores, graduation rates, or college enrollment.
“Overall,” she said, “we found that the SIG program had no impact on student achievement.”
Money well spent, Mr. Obama. Money well spent. At least we know those kids got a crappy, federally-mandated meal to go along with their crappy, expensive public education.
As conceived, the SIG program was intended to provide funds for America’s worst schools and get test scores and graduation rates climbing. Schools with poor academic records and graduation rates below 60% were eligible for the grants. And though studies consistently showed that this scheme was not going to work, Education Secretary Arne Duncan decided to go all the way with the program.
We’ll never see those tax dollars again, but at least Duncan did us the favor of proving that we’re not going to magically spend our way out of our education woes. Well, it would be a favor if Democrats learned anything from their failures. The answer is always to spend more, spend more, spend more.
Thankfully, we’re about to take a break from that destructive mentality. Betsy DeVos, assuming she gets confirmed, is an outspoken champion for school choice, and Donald Trump favors that approach as well. Instead of trying to rescue schools that are beyond hope, we can start giving low-income families the educational opportunities available to wealthier ones. If you really want to even out the playing field, that’s a beautiful place to start.
For the sake of the next generation (and our collective wallets), let’s hope it starts soon.