It’s report card time for politicians and their handling of education: from K-12 to college, and medical school. They’ve failed both students and taxpayers.

Pennsylvania public school spending is at an all-time high: an average of $22,000/child, $4,100 more than the national average. 

Well, surely this massive spending is getting us good results? They’re preparing our students to lead us into the 21st century, right?

Well, no. Students are still falling behind, with too many unable to do grade-level work, even in this era of lowered standards. Some are so far behind, they can’t even see the middle of the pack. They’re on a tragic path.

In the eleventh grade Keystone exams, there are 21 Pennsylvania high schools where no student meets math proficiency. How will those students find work? What makes us think that these students will suddenly be proficient before graduation?

It’s a K-8 problem, too. According to the recent PSSA tests, almost half of fourth and eighth graders cannot read at grade level. Some may not be able to read this sentence!

A recently released study by the Commonwealth Foundation on data released by the Department of Education details the failure: how the adults are failing our students.

These statewide test scores take place in an era where some school districts have decided that excellence is not an admirable goal: it’s harmful, racist, sexist or whatever. The “experts” have instituted “enlightened policies:” eliminated “advanced” or AP classes; stopped publicizing national merit scholars; don’t issue grades; don’t correct wrong answers; and, allow assignments to be handed in late. (Let’s not even get into spending class time discussing race, sex, gender and who the teacher dated this past weekend.)

There are those who think money is the answer; perhaps “we” as taxpayers aren’t spending enough? Maybe you’re right. Maybe not. However…

Did you know that Pennsylvania school districts are currently sitting on approximately $6.8 billion in reserves? Sitting in the bank. (Remember that the next time your local school board tells you they “have to” raise taxes. Or the next time they whine about how charter schools or cyber charter students are “bankrupting” districts.)

But, there’s more. Districts also have $1.4 billion in unspent Covid dollars. In 2024! What exactly are they waiting for?

Maybe some districts need money for a deserving cause. Yet, you’d be surprised to know that many districts’ central office budgets are growing faster than teacher pay.

It seems as though the adults keep focusing only on spending money to measure success. Some seem more focused on “lesson plans” revolving around their political agenda than on “reading, writing and ‘rithmatic.” We know they certainly aren’t spending class time teaching students how to debate ideas or solve problems.

Too many school districts are failing our students. 

Tragically, in the face of this, too many in Harrisburg respond by shoveling out more and more of our money — without demanding accountability. And many are focused on taking away options from parents — forcing them out of their charter, cyber or non-public schools back into these failing schools.

The 2023-24 school year has proven that higher education is failing. Billions being spent. A trillion dollars in student debt. And, many students aren’t learning the basics: actual history, science, math or logic. And, many have been so “bubble-wrapped,” they can’t handle having a speaker on campus holding views they don’t agree with.

College presidents who don’t understand “free speech” and can’t recognize actual antisemitism and violence taking place in their quads.

And for those of us who hoped our “elite” universities would save the day, the tragic reality is that those universities are worse — and setting up corporate America, our communities and nation for failure.

This week showed us that our major medical schools are failing us, too. UCLA apparently has up to half of its medical students who can’t pass basic classes.

UCLA’s undergraduate school has a nine percent acceptance rate. Its medical school has a 2.2 percent acceptance rate — meaning that they reject 97.8 percent of applicants. Makes one wonder a lot about who they accept.

You and I might not really care who UCLA accepts into its undergraduate colleges. But…if an elite medical school is “training” future doctors who cannot do basic math, science, biology, well, now you have my attention.

As education has gone downhill, rewarding mediocrity and marking 2 + 2 = 5 as “correct,” I’ve often wondered: “Who will build our bridges, build our kids’ homes, perform our heart surgeries, repair our computers, fix our cars and heaters, invent the next widget?” Now, it’s becoming clear that we all better start asking those questions — for real. Plus, politicians are shipping our tax dollars to elite universities — from DC and Harrisburg. Not one more dime! 

That’s not the only way that the folks in Washington have been wasting our dollars on higher education.

Biden saw the billions being wasted subsidizing and incentivizing “elite” universities and said: “hold my beer.”

In 2021, Biden extended the student loan payback delay, ultimately not ending it until September 2023 “because of Covid.” During that time, taxpayers weren’t getting paid back millions in repayments for student loans.

But there was more, Biden ordered the “canceling” of $400 billion in student-loan debt — the true cost was closer to $1 trillion. The US Supreme Court ruled that he lacked the authority to do this without Congress. His executive order was dead. Or not…

When you’re “right,” apparently you’re allowed to ignore the Supreme Court and do what you want. 

Biden keeps ignoring the Supreme Court by “canceling student debt” one “victim group” at a time. This is just transferring the debt payments to the rest of us — in another attempt to buy off millennial and Gen Z voters who’ve soured on him.

It’s not about students. It’s not about taxpayers. It’s about partisan politics, ideology and power. 

It’s all the same: record spending by politicians in Harrisburg; getting rid of test grades in K-12 as state assessments fall, talking about the teacher’s sex life in class, admitting unqualified people into medical school, tolerating antisemitism, or, making all taxpayers pay for the student debt (often for meaningless degrees) under the false description of “canceling student loans.”

It’s time for us to issue report cards to Biden and his allies. The grade: straight F’s.

They are failing our public school students — and those who want to escape. Worse, they’re trying to drag some back, forcing them to go to failing schools.

They’re failing taxpayers — taking more and more of our money, spending on K-12 schools with no accountability. Sending billions to “elite” universities — who don’t need the money — to conduct  studies we don’t need. And making the 87 percent of us without student loans pay for the 13 percent who have loans, who got the education.

Politicians using our kids and our money for their own power. They’ve failed us.

School’s out for summer. Will we show that we’ve learned our lesson this fall?

Guy Ciarrocchi is a Senior Fellow with the Commonwealth Foundation. He writes for Broad + Liberty and RealClear Pennsylvania. Follow Guy at @PaSuburbsGuy

3 thoughts on “Guy Ciarrocchi: Politicians have failed students and taxpayers”

  1. Absolutely bang on. It is NOT the humorous situation a great deal of folks ascribe to the situation. If you don’t think this is deadly serious, the next time you have a heart attack, send for a gender studies major, or send for the last in the class since grades don’t matter. It is very depressing to see this situation unfold, like virginity lost, how do you restore it?

  2. Guy, you produce enough hot air and CO2 with your trivial rants that you shouldn’t be worried about the world having enough to support life.

Leave a (Respectful) Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *