Classrooms at USF are crowded, parking is sparse, desks are broken, budget cuts are everywhere and financial aid is difficult to procure. It feels as though USF is trying to fit ten pounds of potatoes into a five-pound bag. Why are the classrooms so crowded? Why is parking such a task? Why do college students bear the burden of ever-increasing debt?
There is one underlying problem: lack of funds due to military spending and educational funding.
First of all, how much money from the government is invested in education? According to CNN, $57.3 billion dollars in discretionary funding was approved by the Department of Education. That sounds like plenty of money to take care of all our schooling needs in the United States and send every child to college, doesn’t it?
Well, the Budget of the United States Government for 2004 shows a total of $1.926 trillion dollars in tax money with 31 percent of that money going toward current military funding and 18 percent going toward past military funding; meaning that 49 cents out of every dollar that Americans pay in taxes goes directly to military spending.
It is ridiculous that with that much tax money only 2.9 percent goes toward funding the education of the children that are to be the leaders of tomorrow.
This brings me back to a great war-like cartoon (read: G.I. Joe) where it was said that “knowing” was half of the battle, not 2.9 percent of it. If half of the money that went into the military went to education, the goals that could be accomplished would be phenomenal. More jobs, new products and unforeseen inventions are all possible with the collaboration of the minds of the children of today. We, as Americans, just need to give them that fighting chance.
A great educational structure must be built upon a solid foundation. The money that is necessary to accomplish our educational goals is taken out of all our paychecks every two weeks. We, as a people, need to voice our opinion as to how much money goes toward the education of our children. “An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure,” my dad always told me. It seems that the United States is throwing more money at combating the symptoms when the money should be spent on prevention — the cause of such symptoms.
Obviously, there needs to be some adequate line of defense for the country. The military is still labeled as a mode of defense, right? Perhaps my confusion comes from our blatantly offensive use of our defenses lately. I was not aware that a preemptive strike on a sovereign nation was a move based on defense.
There are not many other countries in the world that have the resources we do. We are free as Americans and everyone should get the chance to better their lives.
We need to use these inherent qualities to our advantage to send our children to school, not to war.
Give everyone the chance to attain better jobs and more money to provide for themselves and their families.
It is often said we are the greatest country in the world. Let us keep it that way by educating our youth and advancing our society, not by shooting guns and dropping bombs. America can keep being the big bully in school or we can grow up and use our funds to become the valedictorian. The choice is ours.
Bob Kulstad is a junior majoring in industrial engineering.