Is it just me, or has anyone else noticed the increase in scholarship applications since the passage of “No Child Left Behind” in 2002?
Groups promoting school vouchers, such as America’s Promise Alliance, claim more kids are going to college because of vouchers and scholarship programs. However, every study of private school students in Milwaukee, North Carolina, and Texas (and several states around the country, including Tennessee) over the past decade has shown that private school students (as measured by their standardized test scores) are not receiving substantially better educations than their public school peers.
Of course, the alternative to public schools is not college. Instead, it is welfare and prison. That is what Democrats like Hillary Clinton would force all children to get for free.
The problems associated with raising welfare payments have not ended with “No Child Left Behind.” This year, the Department of Education admitted it had left children in schools across the nation without adequate services. Despite this evidence, Obama continues to push his “college for all” plan.
Now, the GOP is pushing to privatize education, albeit slightly. Last week, Iowa State Sen. Kevin Penner introduced a bill that would require Iowa school districts to award up to 50 percent of the college scholarships available to students in the state to students whose parents receive a federal welfare payment. The welfare payments would be allocated by the state; any leftover funds would go to the school district.
According to Penner’s bill, “A child of a welfare recipient is a child who is receiving welfare benefits because of poverty and child abuse…” Therefore, the entire federal welfare budget of $36 billion a year would be divided between students.
Furthermore, Iowa does not need new federal subsidies. More than 15 percent of Iowa residents receive welfare benefits, and their payments were recently increased by 5 percent to compensate for increased food costs.
Of course, any new school voucher or scholarship program is going to be hard to implement with less money. School districts will be competing against each other to secure scholarship money. If the incentive for education is to help families struggling with poverty, then paying for education on the basis of how poor a student’s parents are will not lead to any improvements.
Sure, if students from families with welfare payments do better in school, more students can be removed from welfare rolls. But there is no guarantee of that. Most of the parents of a child who receives a scholarship are already on welfare, and they can be removed only by finding another welfare job or losing their welfare benefits. The problem with expecting more money to solve a poverty problem is that there are plenty of people willing to pay to live in poverty.
If we really want to help struggling families, then raising welfare payments or reducing the benefit increases on existing welfare benefits are far more likely to improve a family’s situation.
If I was running for President, I would use this issue to convince people to be angry at welfare. Instead of wasting billions of dollars trying to get more of our money into “education” (which has shown to be a disaster), we should simply ensure that needy families receive the necessary money to help lift them out of poverty.
Of course, this policy is a no-brainer. President Obama and Hillary Clinton are out of ideas and out of time. How do you win an election with only an ideological argument?
Instead, they are counting on the public to respond emotionally to the idea of giving welfare recipients even more money. But they are ignoring the economic argument. There is no incentive to help struggling families if giving them more money is not going to help the economy.
Last week, a government official warned that the problem with more spending is that the problem never ends. Only some aspects of the problem will be solved, however. The rest will fall to businesses to solve by shifting production overseas or keeping labor costs low. It would be far cheaper for the government to pay students to go to college or to pay for college education.
Yet, instead, we are seeing the government increasingly step in to help low-income families pay for education, and the problem becomes even worse.
More government spending has not worked well in the past, and it has almost never done a good job of helping low-income families. If we really want to help struggling families, then paying for education on the basis of how poor a student’s parents are will not lead to any improvements.
Yet, the federal government has set aside billions of dollars each year in welfare spending. Perhaps Iowa needs to get out of the business of helping poor families as much as it does helping college students. The State of Iowa could help low-income families pay for education by paying the actual tuition. If the state has to “give” scholarships to students, then it could give scholarships to poor families on the basis of how poor the student’s parents are, which should lead to far more meaningful improvements in the students’ lives.
Sitting on top of more than $2 trillion in funds, Iowa can decide how to spend it. If Iowa was the only state in America providing these kinds of grants, then these programs would not be required to consider whether a student’s parents are struggling with poverty.
Rather than just giving out more money to students, Iowa could tie these programs to obtaining a degree and a salary in a specific field, such as business or nursing. This way, Iowa would not have to start a scholarship program that does not help any struggling families.
Even if Iowa had to pay for student scholarships, Iowa would still have enough money to help more low-income families than it does now. Moreover, students would still have the incentive to go to college or to pay for their education.
Perhaps students would take more time and more money to finish college or to earn a degree, but they would spend less time and less money pursuing those goals. And, once a student has a degree or a career, the state would have far less money to help other low-income families.