Bush’s Budget

You’re going to hear lots of howling about the President’s proposed education budget because it eliminates a slew of programs, and every one has an interest group(s) working on its behalf. Ignore most of the griping. Many of these programs have a dubious record of effectiveness, are more about symbolism than substance, or, in a few cases, are just plain silly. Besides, because most have political patrons they’re not really in jeopardy anyway. In fact, a few are perpetually on the cutting block regardless of whether it’s a Democratic or Republican presidency yet always skate through.

But some are very worthwhile. For instance, the Administration’s decision to eliminate the Gear-Up program by folding it into their high school reform plan is inexplicable. It’s particularly galling in the context of a budget that purportedly “Focuses Resources On Students Who Need Them the Most.” Parts of the Administration’s high school reform plan are meritorious, but it doesn’t make sense to collapse a broader program with a discrete intent, especially one that is now getting rolling, into this new initiative as they’re proposing to do. It couldn’t possibly be because it’s a Clinton-era program could it? Nah, they couldn’t be that petty…

Also, the decision to cut funding for the regional education labs shows that, at least on education, they’re more serious about shoehorning this budget into their deficit pledge than setting policy with it. Besides, shouldn’t they be thinking about ways to better engage the labs (which are admittedly of mixed quality) into No Child implementation?

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