First, those in pre-K, K-12, and higher ed need to understand that it’s going to be mostly cuts and belt-tightening for a good long while. For all the debt deal pyrotechnics, the reality is that Uncle Sam is collecting about $2.2 trillion in taxes this year but plans to spend more than $3.6 trillion. Social Security, Medicare, and interest payments alone account for half or more of all annual outlays. You could slash defense spending by a third, adopt Obama’s preferred tax hikes on those making $250,000 and up, and scrupulously abide by the new spending caps, and you’d still be eyeballing a $1 trillion shortfall in 2012.
The fact is, school choice options like charters and vouchers are our country’s best hope for slimming education while moving kids ahead academically. Charter schools cost 80 percent of traditional public schools, vouchers often half or less, and private schools about two-thirds average national per-pupil spending (which latter figure doesn’t include facilities and physical plant costs for traditional public schools). No wonder school choice has bloomed this year and looks likely to do so again in coming legislative sessions.
Hess concludes that ed-participants might as well get with the game:
Congress has proven itself to be a lot like your teenage son’s irresponsible friend; the one who emptied his college fund to buy a carpeted, pinstriped VW van with mag wheels and neon seat covers, and now hopes his folks will loan him money for insurance. A substantial number of Hill Republicans have decided the only way to deal with that kid is to just say “no.” Rather than issue petulant missives denouncing cuts, the ed community might want to start contemplating a new strategy for the challenges ahead.