A report by the National Education Association showing that the federal government's share of state education costs has been steadily falling over the last decade draws into significant question President Bush's claim to be "the education president."
In the school year 1990-1991, the NEA found, the federal government's share of school funding stood at just 6.2 percent -- the lowest since 1965.
As a result, states have been forced to pick up an increasing share of education costs. Paradoxically, the trend tends to penalize precisely those states that devote a large proportion of local revenues to education. For example, last year in Maryland, which ranks among the top 10 states in teacher salaries and per pupil spending, federal aid to education was just 4.9 percent of total education spending -- significantly below the national average.
What the figures suggest is that the more funds local government puts into schools the fewer dollars, proportionately, they will receive from the federal government. This is exactly the opposite of what federal aid policy should do if the aim is to to invest in education.