For conservatives, public schools are a red flag—bloated, bureaucratic, public institutions. Their first priority is to privatize public education, just as they would privatize Social Security. They push private school vouchers—seeking public funds for tuition to private and religious schools. They starve investment in public schools, arguing that too much is being spent already. Although they profess to believe in the market, they reject the need to pay teachers more and instead push for breaking teachers’ unions.
The Bush administration is exemplary. The No Child Left Behind Act mandated testing to identify failing schools, but Bush broke his promise to provide resources to remedy the problems. Despite tuition at four-year public colleges rising by 40% since he came into office, Bush broke his promise to raise the level of Pell grants, the primary federal scholarship program, and cut $12 billion from the student loan program.