Regarding presidential candidate Mitt Romney’s gaffe: of course state and local governments pay for teachers. No one disputes that. But the federal government does also pay for teachers, whether it’s the local or state education agency that makes that decision, or if it’s indirectly through federally-funded state training and credentialing programs.
The Washington Post’s Josh Hicks corroborates the information with the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (which we have the full text of on our site, in searchable form). He finds that:
The federal government has doled out loads of education money to the states ever since President Lyndon B. Johnson signed the Elementary and Secondary Education Act of 1965. Lawmakers have reauthorized that measure every five years like clockwork, sometimes tweaking it a bit, as President George W. Bush helped do with No Child Left Behind.
Title I of the federal statute allows the government to allocate funds toward improving education for disadvantaged students. The U.S. Department of Education told us the law allows a great deal of flexibility in terms of how schools can spend the money, so long as the purpose matches the intent of the measure.
We found a list of federal appropriations to the Department of Education dating back to 1980, and we used those figures to calculate how much the government has spend on Title I grants since then. The answer: more than $355 billion.
A great deal of this money ends up going toward training and new materials, but schools are free to use it for additional teachers and paraprofessionals as well — the Education Department says that’s not uncommon. As such, local schools have definitely used federal funds to hire teachers.
Perhaps if Mitt Romney dug back into his pre-6th grade days before private school, or hadn’t been abandoned by his career educator and former Secretary of Education advisor on these issues, he would’ve known such an elementary fact as he obviously missed. Clearly he doesn’t know, and doesn’t care, who funds public schools so long as he can dismantle the system of public education.