How to justify unaffordable and inefficient stimulusJoe Biden ... talk to schoolchildren. Last week, it was the fourth grade at Alexander B. Goode Elementary School in York, Pa., that found itself on the receiving end of the vice president’s wisdom:
Here in this school, your school, you’ve had a lot of teachers who used to work here, but because there’s no money for them in the city, they’re not working. And so what happens is, when that occurs, each of the teachers that stays have more kids to teach. And they don’t get to spend as much time with you as they did when your classes were smaller. We think the federal government in Washington, D.C., should say to the cities and states, look, we’re going to give you some money so that you can hire back all those people. And the way we’re going to do it, we’re going to ask people who have a lot of money to pay just a little bit more in taxes.
So how come the Brokest Jurisdiction in History is able to “give you some money” to hire back those teachers that had to be laid off?
No problem, says the vice president. We’re going to “ask” people who have “a lot of money” to “pay just a little bit more” in taxes. ...
Since 1970, public-school employment has increased ten times faster than public-school enrollment. In 2008, the United States spent more per student on K–12 education than any other developed nation except Switzerland — and at least the Swiss have something to show for it. In 2008, York City School District spent $12,691 per pupil — or about a third more than the Swiss. Slovakia’s total per-student cost is less than York City’s current per-student deficit — and the Slovak kids beat the United States at mathematics, which may explain why their budget arithmetic still has a passing acquaintanceship with reality. As in so many other areas of American life, the problem is not the lack of money but the fact that so much of the money is utterly wasted.
So the president spent last week touring around in his weaponized Canadian bus telling Americans that Republicans were blocking plans to “put teachers back in the classroom.” Well, where are they now? Not every schoolmarm is down at the Occupy Wall Street drum circle, is she? No, indeed. And in that respect York City is a most instructive example: Five years ago (the most recent breakdown I have), the district had 440 teachers but 295 administrative and support staff. If you’re thinking that sounds a little out of whack, that just shows what a dummy you are: For every three teachers we “put back in the classroom,” we need to hire two bureaucrats to put back in the bureaucracy to fill in the paperwork to access the federal funds to put teachers back in the classroom. One day it will be three educrats for every two teachers, and the system will operate even more effectively. ...
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Mark Steyn, a National Review columnist, is the author of After America: Get Ready for Armageddon.