Two Ships in the Night: Political Promises Sail North, Education South
Education. It’s a “hot button” topic in the race for the White House. Both candidates on the campaign trail – Obama and Romney – have acknowledged its importance. Education goes hand-in-hand with a healthy economy – history has proved that. An educated person is a job holder and tax payer.
But voters are nervous: Whoever wins the Presidency, will he spend more – or less – on education?
No one denies the precarious state of education in the United States right now. It is vulnerable on many fronts: teacher and program cutbacks, overcrowding, escalating tuition and operating costs, student-teacher safety and security, the quality of education itself . . . and now fraud schemes to exploit federal financial aid programs.
Most recently, twenty-one people have been indicted by federal prosecutors. U.S. Attorney Benjamin Wagner and the U.S. Department of Education announced that allegedly these people were involved in a fraudulent scheme to acquire federal student aid at seventeen schools in California. These indictments are a part of larger, national crackdown, officials noted, on a growing number of fraud rings criminally targeting financial aid.
What do these arrests and these fraud schemes have to do with education? A lot. Does it affect its quality, its competitiveness? Yes. For many, education is the road out of poverty. If these financial fraud schemes are as widespread as might be indicated, how many students will slip through the cracks just because a few decided ripping off federal aid funds was better than class time? How much aid will not go where it is needed?
And how does a criminal attorney handle a successful criminal defense? A tough nut, considering the sensitivity surrounding education as a whole. For now, it seems, for those charged in fraudulent student aid schemes prison time will replace class time.