Commentary: Rand Paul's education plan flunks Reality 101

Rand Paul speaks often about the need to keep more of Kentucky's tax dollars in the state instead of sending them to Washington, D.C.

In concept, it sounds good. But as is often the case with the Republican U.S. Senate candidate, when his broad concepts meet reality, they are exposed as the spiel of a snake oil salesman.

In reality, Kentucky gets more money back from the federal government than it pays in — somewhere between $1.51 and $1.82 for every tax dollar Kentuckians send to Washington. As one of the poorer states, we get subsidized by wealthier ones.

It is within the context of this reality that Paul's proposal to close the U.S. Department of Education must be considered. (Assuming, of course, closing the department remains his position today. He sometimes hedges on his commitment to this goal.)

Kentucky gets $429 million, about 10 percent of its education budget, from the federal government. Much of this money goes to programs benefiting children from low-income families — the Head Start pre-school program, Title I funding for schools and districts with high poverty rates, Pell Grants for low-income college students.

Eliminate the Department of Education to reduce federal spending, and these programs probably disappear. Paul doesn't put this consequence in so many words, of course. He sticks to broad concepts.

To read the complete editorial, visit www.kentucky.com.