ISIS has people turning to violence abroad, North Korea’s nuclear program is proliferating and nearly half a million Syrians have died in the country’s civil war. Knowing that these events are taking place, it makes sense that people are worried about the United States’ national security and military strength. However, the military should reallocate some of its funds to local matters such as the health and education of today’s youth.
Though the U.S.’s discretionary budget puts education as the third-most invested-in industry, it trails behind the military by a whopping $530 billion annually. Simply moving $5 billion from the military to education could drastically offset some of the underperformance issues of lower socio-economic school districts. This comparatively small amount of money won’t put that much pressure on the military; it will continue to have more funding than the next seven countries combined. That being said, in regard to education, the U.S. still ranks as one of the highest in dollars spent per student. However, this is not reflected in global scoring. In fact, compared to the best performing countries, U.S. students are only ranked at 17 for global testing averages.
The government could conduct research as to why dollars spent are not translating to higher student test scores by reallocating a few billion off the military budget. Such research would include comparing the U.S.’s education model to those of the higher-performing countries and making adequate adjustments to the curriculum.
For example, the Finnish schooling system has gained global recognition in recent years – ranking sixth, second and third in math, science and reading, respectively. One of the noticeable differences in the Finnish model is that students get 15-minute breaks after every 45 minutes of instruction, whereas the U.S. is scaling back recess time for students. Finnish public schools are also funded by the national government, whereas U.S. schools only receive federal funding in the form of grants – basic operation costs are left up to local and state governments.
Other than conducting research with the reallocated money, schools could also use better funding for feeding their children. This doesn’t mean offering more students free or reduced lunches, but actually providing quality meals. One only needs to look up pictures of other countries’ school lunches to quickly see how large the discrepancy is. By spending money on nutrition for today’s youth, the government could help mitigate the childhood obesity epidemic, which, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, “has more than doubled in children and quadrupled in adolescents in the past 30 years.”
All this being said, national security is obviously still important. Depleting military funds drastically would be unwise and unsafe, but a revamp of how the military spends its money could possibly reveal a surplus. For example, while many citizens are worried about national security, the defense branch receives the least funding of all branches. Also, the military spent $200 billion in 2015 on the maintenance and operation of their bases, including the ones abroad. By readdressing which branches are prioritized and scaling back foreign operations, some of the money left over would do well in updating the American education system.
To many, our national security seems at risk. Who can blame them? By simply clicking a link, one can watch all sorts of horrors online. However, we believe a proper reevaluation of military spending is in order, and our under-educated and improperly nourished youth deserve better federal funding.