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Time for America to care for its own

April 03, 2005|by Crosby Blair and Ryan Alick

Why is the government shortchanging America's youth? In a country that sternly promises "the best education in the world," our nation's teachers are underpaid, our students unmotivated and our budget unflinching. More money needs to be spent on education, teachers need to be paid more and our young students need to be given the chances and opportunities that they sorely need and that their country so persistently promises them.

America's schools in general just aren't getting enough money and we have proof to back up this claim. The discretionary budget is the part of our federal budget that Congress debates and decides on every year. This part of the budget constitutes about one-third of the total federal spending.

The other two-thirds are spent on "mandatory spending" like Social Security. In a report from National Priorities Project, in fiscal year 2004, (Oct. 1, 2003, to Sept. 30, 2004) 52 percent of the discretionary budget was spent on national defense, 6 percent on international affairs, 3 percent on general science, space and technology, 3 percent on natural resources and environment, 3 percent on transportation, 6 percent on health, 5 percent on income security, 3 percent on veterans' benefits, 4 percent on administration of justice, 6 percent on "other" and a measly 9 percent was spent on education, training, employment and social services.

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Educating our youth does not even constitute a separate category. Our federal government spends more on "other" and international affairs than it does on educating our next generation.

Second, while President Bush plays the "good guy" by creating such programs as No Child Left Behind, in reality, it is hurting the communities that need an educational face-lift the most. While No Child Left Behind does provide some useful and effective new methods and technology, it only helps those schools that have enough funding to provide it for themselves.

No Child Left Behind lays down a rule for schools, saying you must meet these requirements or else the government will close you down. It requires the school to better its technology, but only provides 40 percent of the funding needed to do so.

In reality, this education policy hurts the schools that need the most help. Low-income schools built in farming towns cannot come up with the funding needed to please President Bush. So, instead of helping the little guy, our government simply shuts them down.

Finally, America's teachers need to be paid more. The average teacher salary for a public high school teacher is only $44,367. We believe that for performing such a significant and important task as educating our children, teachers need to be paid at least $60,000 a year. Why should a sports star make hundreds of millions of dollars while a teacher barely makes enough to support a family?

While these problems will never be completely solved, we believe that Congress needs to reevaluate its choices of spending before things get too disproportional. The only way to fix this problem is if Congress passes a bill stating education receive more than 9 percent on the discretionary budget. Now, we're not saying that we want education to receive all of the money, but it would be nice for categories to become more equal. Instead of having national defense receiving 52 percent of the budget and education only receiving 9 percent why don't we even things out to 45 percent and 16 percent?

The only way that education is going to improve is if we act now. Write to your state senators asking them why they haven't done anything to help you, the student. Write to President Bush and ask him if he really believes that the war in Iraq is more important than educating America's youth.

If education is such a major part of life and a major part of society, why is it such a low priority to our federal government? America's schools need more money, so that they can successfully and effectively educate today for tomorrow.




Crosby Blair and Ryan Alick are students at Boonsboro High School.

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