A tiny bit of Utopia
The Department of Education’s Budget for 2008 is 62.6 billion dollars. For those who don’t know me, what I’m about to propose will seem simplistic, if not ignorant. Rest assured, it’s nothing of the sort. It is presented in a simplistic manner, to be sure. But only for the sake of brevity do I risk such generalization here. I’m proposing the following based on an extremely complex infrastructure that includes not just our various and sundry systems of education, but our position in a tangled web of global economics, analysis of long term trends in business and international relations, with a generous smattering of historical perspective.
Let me just get right to the proposal.
1) This is a long-term, perhaps as much as 20 years, proposal. It could take that long to reap the full benefits, but this is investment money. This is an investment in the long-term health and stability of the U.S., and on a year-by-year basis, it’s a pittance of our Federal budget.
2) The short and sweet version:
A) Freeze spending at current level for Ed Dept.
B) Shrink Dept to 12.6 billion in allocations directly to schools and school programs. Require a 5% maximum overhead for operations, though I know it can be done for less.
C) The remaining 50 billion to be divided up into grants for scholarships. I’d do this in two ways:
I) 37.5 billion in direct 4-year package grants. The grants are scheduled at $100,000. This is how I arrived at that figure: http://www.collegeboard.com/student/pay/add-it-up/4494.html
This is a 4 year grant for 375,000 people per year. This is not to say you must attend a four-year program. I would be willing to be flexible in distribution. More on that later.
II) The remaining 12.5 billion to be distributed to existing scholarship and endowments. This is roughly equivalent to current spending on Pell Grants. Yes, there would be no more Pell Grants, but this way more than offsets the loss, at least in the long term it will. I propose here to endow 1250 private endowments, memorials and foundations, devoted exclusively to scholarship and financial aid for education awards, $1,000,000 per year for 10 years. No endowment would be eligible for the award twice (though I’d consider reviewing this if a good argument could be made.) This would endow 12,500 programs across the country with $1,000,000 over 10 years.
I have to run to class. I have a biology paper and an English paper to finish as well as math to get to, but I’ll try to expand on at least the rationale and benefit analysis for this tack tonight: no promises.