One of the key provisions of Pres Obama's recently released budget proposal is increased Federal spending for education and training. The following charts are based on data obtained from the Office of Management and Budget (OMG):
Note that while the total Federal budget for education and training has been trending upwards since 1962, outlays as percent of the total Federal budget and gross domestic product (GDP) have been trending downwards. In other words, Federal spending for education and training has been declining as a percent of the total Federal budget and GDP since 1962.
If innovation and growth are fundamental to reversing the economic fortunes of the US, then I suppose a case can be made for reallocating budget dollars into education and training as a percent of the total budget and GDP. However, exactly how education and training dollars might be used remains a separate issue for public debate.
My intuition tells me that expanded funding for the sciences and engineering may indeed by justified, which is emphatically not the same as pooring dollars into failing schools in the secondary school system. The fact is that our nation has never truly targeted scarce education and training resources based on the specific needs of industry. Moreover, reallocation of education and training dollars between the defense and non-defense sectors may be justified. Indeed, reallocating education and training dollars within the existing budget may be a prerequisite to increased funding in general.
To the extent that increased Federal spending in education and training can be targeted to the sciences and engineering, I vote yea. However, if increased Federal spending in education and training means pooring scarce dollars indiscriminantly into the nation's secondary school system, then my vote is nea.
Source: Office of Management and Budget (OMB)