"I know no safe depository of the ultimate powers of the society but the people themselves; and if we think them not enlightened enough to exercise their control with a wholesome discretion, the remedy is not to take it from them, but to inform their discretion by education. This is the true corrective of abuses of constitutional power." - Thomas Jefferson 1820

"There is a growing technology of testing that permits us now to do in nanoseconds things that we shouldn't be doing at all." - Dr. Gerald Bracey author of Rotten Apples in Education

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Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Stranger than Fiction: "I Know Better than You" Education Crowd (Choice Architects) vs the Right...AND the Left?

When you've even lost the liberals supporting the direction and intent of a left leaning governmental program, it might be wise to dismantle it and start over. Or just dismantle the whole department...such as the Department of Education. The right has consistently been clamoring for the abolishment of this department as it has not instituted mandates or programs that have made any difference in students' achievement scores in four decades. Move over and make room on this abolishment bandwagon for additional educational advocates...from the left.

Here's an excellent article by Neal McCluskey of Cato in which he gives us information on the left's disillusionment with Race to the Top and other mandates:

What’s not nearly so well known is that there are also people on the left who dislike ED. Now, they don’t dislike it because it and the programs it administers clearly exist in contravention of the Constitution, or because its massive dollar-redistribution programs have done no discernable good. They dislike it because, especially since the advent of No Child Left Behind, it strong-arms schools into doing things left-wing educators often disagree with or resent, like pushing phonics over whole language, or imposing standardized testing. Many also truly believe in local control of schools, though often with power consolidated in the hands of teachers.

George Wood, director of the Forum for Education and Democracy makes some excellent points on why the Federal Government's intrusion into mandating 100% of policy is disastrous:

Everybody dislikes bureaucracies, but for different reasons. The “right” complains they are unresponsive, full of “feather-bedders,” and a waste of taxpayer money. The “left” complains they are unresponsive, full of people who are too busy pushing paper to see the real work, and too intrusive into local, democratic decision-making. Maybe we should unite all this new energy for making government more responsive and efficient around the idea of eliminating a bureaucracy that was probably a bad idea in the first place.

Mr. Wood is correct in his many of his observations in the original Washington Post piece. Even the left is getting tired of the "choice architects" behind these educational policies:

It might be viewed as peculiar for someone who values education to be arguing for what has often been a very conservative position. I know I will hear responses that education is a national issue and is too important to be left to states and locales. But this has always been the argument of the “I know better than you” crowd, and it’s time we stop buying into that logic. The fact is that the federal government has demonstrated time and time again it does not know better when it comes to our schools.

Question: When you've lost the right and the left and both agree it doesn't help the children it's allegedly trying to help, why continue such a flawed and unconstitutional mandate? Perhaps this is the time to launch real pushbacks in our state and federal legislatures against the total control of the Department of Education. McCluskey writes:

...now is the time to launch a serious offensive against the U.S. Department of Education. I have largely concluded that because of the wave of generally conservative and libertarian legislators heading toward Washington, as well as the powerful tea-party spirit powering the tide. But this is a battle I have always thought could be fought with a temporary alliance of the libertarian right and educators of the progressive left who truly despise top-down, one-size-fits-all, dictates from Washington.

It's time to share this information with your Republican AND Democratic representatives and senators, on the state and national level. The people detest it. The system loves it.

This is a lesson I learned a long time ago: the system protects the system. It doesn't protect the individual. It's time to garner our forces from the left and right and dismantle this monstrosity of legislation and centralized federal power grab.

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