Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Don't know much about history...

Congress has recently announced the effects their latest compromise will have on the Department of Education.  My jaw dropped when I read Education Week's coverage.  They eliminated the Teaching American History program and also completely eliminated federal funding for foreign language education.  I'm sure their justification was something along the lines of "desperate times, desperate measures" and all that.  But let's look at the numbers, and see how desperate they really were.
  • $120 million saved by eliminating Teaching American History (they actually only saved 46 million, because funding for this program was gutted last year, but I'm going to use the fully funded amount so that Congress gets full credit for their heroic cost cutting.)
  • $27 million saved by eliminating funding for foreign language education
  • $25 million saved by cutting funding to STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics) education
So, altogether, a savings of $172 million.  Now to ordinary people, $172 million is a lot of money.  But this is Congress we're talking about, where you can find more money than this lost in the sofa cushions.  By completely eliminating funding for social studies and foreign language education, and cutting STEM funding by 14%, Congress managed to cut $172 million out of a 2012 federal budget of $3.7 trillion, a total savings of 0.00005% (5/10,000 of 1%)!  Put another way, they've just saved each and every one of us 55 cents this year.

Well done, Congress.  Well done.  But since I really don't trust your money management skills, can I have my 55 cents in cash?

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