The US House of Representatives’ Education and the Workforce Committee, chaired by Rep John Kline (R-MN), recently commissioned a General Accounting Office (GAO) report on America’s federally-funded science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) education portfolio. Among its conclusions, the GAO reports, “Many [STEM education] programs have a broad scope—serving multiple target groups with multiple services.” It goes on to say,
“However, even when programs overlap, the services they provide and the populations they serve may differ in meaningful ways and would therefore not necessarily be duplicative.”
Incredibly, Rep. Kline issued a press release on the Education and Workforce Committee website, categorizing STEM education efforts as broadly duplicative and wasteful: ”New Report Finds Significant Overlap in Federal STEM Education Programs: Maze of Programs Cost Taxpayers Billions, Rarely Reviewed for Efficacy.” Quoting the release:
“…pumping billions of dollars into programs that may be duplicative or unproductive is just plain foolish. Instead of adding programs paid for with taxpayers’ hard-earned money, we need to promote more efficient government by weeding out waste and investing wisely.”
Nobody would argue with the idea that the federal government needs to be held accountable for its investments. Coordinating efforts and measuring impacts are universal goals for any initiative, large or small. Is there room for improvement? Yes.
But to represent the GAO report as an indication that STEM education efforts are unworthy of federal investment is, quite simply, wrong. (Read more…)