Comparing Presidents, Is Our Children Staying in School?

This post is on education, specifically the percentage of 14 to 17 year olds enrolled in school, and the percentage of 20 to 24 year olds enrolled in school. The former group gives some indication of whether students are finishing high school, the latter whether they go on to college.

Before we go any further, let’s note that there are several ways a President can affect these figures. One is by providing funding for schools and loans to students. Another is to try to encourage the development of those parts of the economy for which education really pays off. The President can also set an example… an inarticulate and frequently confused President gives the impression that education isn’t important for success. Interestingly enough, a booming economy might actually reduce high school graduation or college enrollment – potential students might choose to take the opportunity to do some earning while the earning is good. Conversely, a recession often means more people in college. (Or at least that’s been the case in recent decades.) The numbers can also be affected, and even improved simply by careful selection of one’s Secretary Education.

OK. So… data comes from here.

A couple graphs…

A couple summary tables to go with those graphs…

I’ll have a post on spending on education soon, and I haven’t done any more than take a cursory glance at the figures, but by far the biggest jump in spending on education as a share of the Federal budget (data goes back only to 1962, so figures for Ike and much of JFK’s term is not there) occurred under JFK/LBJ. My bet is this was a big priority for Ike too. Right after WW2 (thus, encompassing Truman as well), education was important on its own (think GI bill) but also as a way to further Civil Rights.

And now a question… why does it matter? Does it matter?

Normally, at this point I’d discuss what I think is going on. But I’m kinda in a rush right now… so have at it.

One note… next Comparing Presidents post… spending on education.