Washington Post Wrong in Calling RttT the Largest Federal Education Expenditure

By 01/21/2010

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The $4.35 billion or so dollars spent on the Obama Administration’s Race to the Top (RttT), coupled with the extra billion now proposed by the president, is small beer compared to the $75 billion dollars that the stimulus package handed over to local school districts for programming as usual. Yet the Administration has succeeded in persuading the allegedly skeptical, tough-minded reporters in Washington that RttT is the biggest federal education program ever mounted.

The latest example: Michael Fletcher, writing for the Washington Post on Tuesday, who misleads his readers with the following: “The $4.35 billion effort was enacted last year as part of the $787 billion economic stimulus plan, marking one of the largest federal expenditures ever on the nation’s public schools.”

RttT is not the “largest federal expenditure” on public schools; it is less than 6 percent of the amount the federal government spent on schools by the very stimulus package Fletcher refers to. (For more on how the first $75 billion was spent, see Andy Smarick’s new article on the Ed Next website, “Toothless Reform?“)

I doubt that the Post is trying to cozy up to the Obama Administration but instead just no longer has the resources to vet the stories its reporters submit. Hopefully, it will at least post a correction.

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