All students deserve access to a safe and healthy learning environment, and America’s teachers deserve a paycheck that reflects their efforts in the classroom. This is a principle that Republicans and Democrats agree on, but our solutions differ drastically.
“It’s been said that the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results. When it comes to these two issues—teacher pay and school construction—Democrats have not had a new idea in decades,” Republican Leader Foxx said in her opening statement at today's hearing on school construction.
Democrats’ solution to every challenge is always the same: more money, more centralized power.
But here’s the thing – U.S. public schools are spending billions more on education, but teacher pay and the condition of school facilities have not improved.
Dr. Ben Scafidi, Professor of Economics at Kennesaw State University, testified to the committee that public school spending per student has increased by 37 percent since 1992, but that teachers have not seen a concurrent rise in their salaries. Instead, school districts are staffing up with administrative non-teaching staff, leading to significant bloat.
“This staffing surge in public schools began long before 1992. In fact, this staffing surge has been going on since at least 1950. Since 1950 the number of public school students in America has doubled. The number of teachers employed in our public schools has increased almost two and a half times as fast. But, the number of all other staff employed in public schools increased more than 7 times the increase in students,” Dr. Scafidi said.
Scafidi then cautioned members, “If taxpayers continue to provide significant increases in resources to the conventional U.S. public education system, literally decades of history tells us that there will be significant increases in the employment of all other staff, stagnant teacher salaries, and stagnant outcomes for American students.”
While Democrats continue to offer the same old failed solutions, Republicans are committed to offering new and innovative ideas, like Opportunity Zones, that treat education as a central piece of community development.
Opportunity Zones are areas of the country where the poverty rate exceeds 30 percent. This provision in the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act, which was initially championed by Senators Tim Scott and Cory Booker, will encourage private industry to make long-term investments in these communities and unleash real economic opportunity.
“Time will tell if Opportunity Zones and other new initiatives will finally help us solve the problems of low teacher pay and poor school facilities. But time has already told us that higher price tags, and more bureaucracy in Washington, don’t deliver higher results,” Republican Leader Foxx concluded in her opening statement. “Today, we are going to be listening for fresh ideas and signs of innovation as we pursue our shared goal of better environments for students and teachers.”
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