A U.S. senator from Oklahoma thinks money sent to Boise State to enable professional development training is a waste of taxpayer money.
Sen. Tom Coburn released his report, entitled “Pork 101: How Education Earmarks School Taxpayers,” last week. The point of the document is to identify areas where federal dollars are being wasted and show where efficiencies could have saved money. Coburn turned his sights on earmarks in the education system as the primary source of meaningless dollars. “… my goal is to force Congress to ask the hard questions it has avoided as it has embarked on a futile and counterproductive orgy of earmarking," wrote Coburn. "In many cases, earmarked projects are not given to schools and colleges with the greatest need but those with the best lobbyists."
The Oklahoma Republican senator lays out projects in each of the 50 states that he considers waste. In Idaho, he focuses on $400,000 for professional development of science, technology, engineering, and math teachers that came from the Departments of Transportation and Housing and Urban Development, and Related Agencies Appropriations Act of 2010. That money was intended to aid teachers in the Boise School District to continue their educations to increase student achievement. Teacher development programs are offered through Boise State and are known as the “Idaho SySTEMic Solution” program.
So why did Coburn knock the earmark? In the same year Boise School District is receiving the money for continuing education for teachers, it also had to cut more than 30 teaching positions and several support staffers to balance a multi-million dollar budget deficit. Coburn feels that development money paid while teachers are losing their jobs is a misuse of public funds. "While the earmark‘s cost is small relative to the overall budget deficit of the school district, funding a pork project for professional development when those who would benefit are being laid off is a waste of taxpayer dollars," concluded Coburn.
Phone calls to Boise State and the Boise School District to comment on the report have not been returned.
The money for teacher development was secured by Rep. Mike Simpson, along with Sens. Mike Crapo and Jim Risch. Simpson, when asked for comment, said that the money will help students in the district stay on the forefront of technological advances. “I can understand why a senator that represents the University of Oklahoma might still have an axe to grind with Boise State University, but picking on the school’s effort to improve science, technology, engineering, and math education in Idaho is the wrong place to focus,” said Simpson. “BSU’s Idaho SySTEMic Solution program is helping to improve teacher training in these core areas where our students are losing ground to their counterparts in Europe, Asia, and across the globe. Working to improve teacher and student accomplishment in the areas of science and technology is important for the economic health of our nation in challenging economic times, the competitiveness of U.S. companies in a global economy, and the security of our nation in a dangerous world.”
Boise State University is located in Simpon’s district. The football team for the university upset the squad from the University of Oklahoma in the 2007 Fiesta Bowl.
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