“Never leave money on the table.”

This little tidbit of economic wisdom is the main tool of the elite to get the rest of the world to do things their way. It has proven again and again to be a highly effective tool.

How many city councils or boards of aldermen have implemented bizarre or unnecessary programs simply because there was money available (usually in the form of a federal grant)? How many schools have purchased education materials or devices because there was money on the table from the supplier or a well intentioned philanthropist? Sadly the answer to these questions is “Many.” And even more sadly is the fact that little scrutiny of the long term impact of taking the money is ever completed before the ink dries on the application for the money.

The USDoED knows this fact and admitted that it is the main tool in their toolbox to get states to do what they want with education. In a roundtable sponsored by Forbes magazine, Arne Duncan said this.

We found obviously that federal mandates don’t work well. Where we’ve had the most success is around incentives. And lots of carrots. Not mandate, not have sticks, but put money out there where we can to reward excellence–and that’s a hard sell on both sides in Congress. They’d much prefer straight formula funding. So we’re always fighting to have just a little bit of money to put out there as carrots.

Just so everyone is clear then. The USDoED is always asking Congress for more funding, not because education is in a perilous freefall, but because they know they can get states and districts to do all the things THEY want if they promise them there is money on the table.

D.C. public schools chancellor Kaya Henderson said, “things that I could do by myself I was better when I did them with my union partners, funded with my government partners and supported by $67 million worth of philanthropy.”

Curmudgication has a great review of this roundtable that I encourage you to read. He noted that Andrew Cuomo conceded that “he didn’t get anything done by being nice, so he made everybody’s money contingent on how well they follow his orders and he hasn’t had any problems since. Money buys compliance!”

It should also be noted that the USDoED doesn’t rely solely on carrots. The NCLB waivers are just giant sticks that just push states towards the carrots.

In a society that didn’t practice moral relativism and still valued a personal work ethic, the phrase would be more like, “Money left on a table is rarely free. One should determine the cost to one’s wallet and soul before picking it up.”

Anne Gassel

Anne has been writing on MEW since 2012 and has been a citizen lobbyist on Common Core since 2013. Some day she would like to see a national Hippocratic oath for educators “I will remember that there is an art to teaching as well as science, and that warmth, sympathy and understanding are sometimes more important than policy or what the data say. My first priority is to do no harm to the children entrusted to my temporary care.”

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