It's as depressingly predictable as death: Bold election-season rhetoric gives way to the same old fiscal reality. Politicians in love with education just last Tuesday go absent without leave on Friday, when it's time to pay the piper. Unlike education funding, though, you never have to worry about a shortage of excuses.

This time around a domino effect seems to be in play. First federal surpluses turn into deficits, then full employment begins to fray, then policy priorities at the federal level pinch off funding for promised education programs, then tax-enforcement budgets are under-funded, then

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