If there is a professional class that is almost solidly aligned against liberty it is the teachers and administrators who control the ideas that are pumped into the minds of students from kindergarten through graduate school. How are they aligned against liberty? Most of them are leftists, which means that they are statists who are dedicated to the suppression of liberty in favor of current left-wing orthodoxies. These almost always include the coddling of criminals, unrequited love for America’s enemies, redistribution of income and jobs toward less-productive (and non-productive) persons, restrictions on speech, and the destruction of civil society’s bulwarks: religion, marriage, and family.
In any event, spending on education in the United States amounted to $1.1 trillion in 2010,* about 8 percent of GDP. Most of that $1.1 trillion — $900 billion, in fact — was spent on public elementary and secondary schools and public colleges and universities.* In other words, your tax dollars support the leftists who teach your children and grandchildren to bow at the altar of the state, to placate the enemies of liberty at home and abroad, and to tear down the traditions that have bound people in mutual trust and respect.
So gulled are Americans by the education lobby that voters routinely approve bond issues and elect legislators who promise to spend more on brick-and-mortar, high-tech monuments to educators’ egos. As a result, per-student spending** by public-school systems (K-12) — in constant dollars — was 2.5 times higher in 2010 than in 1970; in public colleges and universities, it was 1.6 times higher. Has education improved that much in 40 years? To ask the question is to answer it.
Key beneficiaries of the rise in per-student spending are education majors. In addition to commanding salaries above what they could earn if the private sector, given their less-than scintillating mental acuity (e.g., table 4 here), they have a lot of time off, good health insurance plans, and generous retirement packages. For all of that, they are sheltered from accountability by union contracts and the education groupies who serve on boards of education — for the prestige, for the connections, and often as a stepping stone to higher office.
But the education majors who populate teaching and administrative jobs in K-12 schools have not been the only beneficiaries of the “demand” for greater per-student spending. Given the ability of most educators and administrators to move between public and private institutions — especially at the university level — the rising “demand” for public education has fueled a kind of educational arms race that has pushed a large segment of the professoriate into the upper reaches of the nation’s income distribution.
And what do tax-paying Americans get for their money? A strong left-wing bias, which is inculcated at universities and spreads throughout public schools (and a lot of private schools). This has been going on, in earnest, since the end of World War II. And, yet, the populace is roughly divided between hard-headed conservatives and squishy-minded “liberals.” The persistence of the divide speaks well for the dominance of nature over nurture. But it does not change the fact that American taxpayers have been subsidizing the enemies of liberty who dominate the so-called education system in this country.
* Estimates from Census Bureau, Statistical Abstract 2012, Table 220. School Expenditures, by Type of Control and Level of Instruction in Constant (2009 to 2010) Dollars.
** Derived from spending estimates given in Table 220 and estimates of number of students given in Table 219. School Enrollment, With Projections.
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Related reading: Matthew Vadum, “You Subsidize Leftist Anarchy,” American Thinker, February 19, 2014
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