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LETTER: $15 trillion and education is still underfunded

To the Editor:

Last week I was listening to a TV show that featured several experts who were discussing the various topics in the U.S. budget. An advocate for public education stated it was woefully underfunded and needs more money.

At www.usgovern you will find out just how much money has been spent on education. You can also follow along with the national debt.

I started in the year 1921, and the money spent on education was 1.7 billion. This number includes state, local and fed monies together. Bear in mind that there weren't a lot of schools around and there was a teacher shortage for a while. It should be mentioned that the education part of the GDP pie chart was about 15 percent. This percentage has slid back and forth each year, but didn't go over 17 percent, or under 15 percent. Each year cost spent for education has gone up, never down. These annual charts didn't include discretionary budgets, 2009 Obama gave $155.4 billion alone.

So I began to add the money spent for education from 1921 to present. Yes, I was at it for a while. 1922, it was $1.7 billion, in 1923 it was $1.8 billion and on and on. For example, did you know that in 1950, it was $9.6 billion, and in 1960 is was $19.4 billion, and in 1971 it was $70.3 billion, and in 1980 it was $166 billion. Sounds like a lot, but you ain't seen nothin' yet, as they say.

In 1990 it was $328.1 billion, in 1998 it was $472.8 billion, and in 2012 $889.2 billion. It gets better for something woefully underfunded. In 2012 it will be $908 billion and by 2014 it will be $941 billion. If you want to take the time to add up all the money spent on education, it's about $15.5 TRILLION. Bear in mind, this is only education and annual costs, not incremental.

So with all this money, why is it you can get a better education in 14 other countries then you can here? For example, South Korea's educational budget is 4.2 percent of GDP and it's first globally. Finland follows at No. 2 with a GDP of 6.4 percent spending and our neighbors to the north, Canada, uses 5.2 percent of the GDP for education. I wonder how woefully these countries are underfunded.

Our current Secretary of Education, a Mr. Arne Duncan, wasn't he a western country singer, maybe no, but his salary is unpublished. Not unlike many other government appointees, but in England a Mr. Charlie Clarke, head of education, gets 50,000 British Pounds, or approximately $89,000 per year. Our deputy secretary of education makes only $162,000 per year.

I'm sure our deputy secretary will be the first to admit he's woefully underfunded as well. Hey, it's expensive to live in Washington, D.C., and there are all those executive limo costs. But wait, transportation is in the education budget.

So why do countries with less do so much, and countries with so much, do less?

Robert Pike

New Richmond