Billion Dollar Priorities

by Josh HetzlerLegislative Assistant

Governor Terry McAuliffe's self-described "number one priority" of his new budget roll-out is increased spending for public education at all levels, including pre-K and college. He wants to increase state funding for public education by over one billion dollars (with a "b") over the biennium.

For many, like the Governor, there always seems to be some implicit belief that if we just throw more money at our problems in education, then everything will get better. It must - money fixes everything, right? Wrong.

More likely, we too often allow our elected officials to indulge in the terrible tendency to misdiagnose (or misrepresent, if we take a more cynical approach) the real cause of our educational problems. Who could dispute that adequately funding our education system is essential? But money is only one ingredient in cultivating well-trained and successful young people, and it's not even the most important by a long shot.

Imagine if we were as invested in strengthening the nuclear family, encouraging a stable home life for every child with a mom and a dad who are married, incentivizing churches and other private entities to play a larger role in community issues, teaching civics education and the value of morals and virtue, or providing more educational choices for families so that each child could receive the education best suited for their needs and unique personality instead of a "one size fits all" approach?

We would soon find that money was never really the problem at all with our education system. And in the long run, we'd save a lot of money and we'd see many more well-rounded, responsible and highly successful members of our communities.