In Washington, the practice of “earmarks” for pet projects in the education appropriations legislation is way out of hand. Wash. Times Archibald writes-up the excess in elementary and secondary education (1,175 earmarks totaling about $400 million). He also revisits the ELC issue.
At the higher education level, the Department of Education had to cancel the annual grant competition for the Fund for the Improvement of Postsecondary Education because there was almost no money left after 400 earmarks totaling $146.2 million reports ($) the Chronicle of Higher Ed.
It’s laughable, but it’s also really unfortunate. Eduwonk thinks that as a rule, large formula driven federal programs are the way to go because they’re the best way to drive dollars to the neediest kids. But, the only way the federal government can serve as a catalyst for innovation is if it can run some honest grant competitions to help spark new ideas and innovations.