Federal investment in the Framework for an Excellent Education will be recouped many times over in economic growth, enhanced tax revenues, and reduced spending on unemployment, criminal justice, and social welfare programs. But this is just a beginning, as we have the capacity to make additional gains through ongoing educational improvements.
Looking back at history, the Morrill Act in 1862 and the GI Bill in 1944 both dramatically increased the nation’s productivity by bringing more people into higher education. Today, America cannot maintain its position as the world’s strongest economy without a greater attention to the needs of our middle and high school students. If we were to raise U.S. workers’ literacy levels we would increase the productivity of our workforce by increasing the pool or our workforce. For example, if our literacy levels were the same as those in Sweden (where the percentage of workers at the lowest literacy level is a third of the U.S. percentage), our gross domestic product would rise by $463 billion.
According to Jay Greene’s report for the Mackinac Center for Public Policy in September 2000, in Michigan alone, businesses spend approximately $40 million a year to teach their workers how to read, write, and perform basic math operations. When including the cost of technology used to compensate for employees’ lack of basic skills, the price of correcting the shortcomings of workers who leave high school without basic skills in Michigan is about $222 million each year.
|“Squeezing Education Funding Out of a ‘Lame Duck'”
Writing for the Council of Great City Schools’ Urban Educator, Jeff Simering, Director of Legislative Services, says Congress will most likely not finish this year’s education spending bill before the upcoming elections:
“It is nearly a foregone conclusion that the 107th Congress will re-convene in a lame duck session after the November elections to complete the annual federal funding cycle. With the economic downturn, major corporate bankruptcies, declining retirement investments, and a ballooning federal deficit, no one wants to be blamed for any more bad news. And, with school budgets being cut due to declining state and local revenue, the offer of less federal education funding than provided in the past two years is not a popular message. The easiest solution appears to be put off funding decisions until after the elections.”