"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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Thursday, January 6, 2011

When Republicans Sound Like Democrats and Democrats Sound Like Republicans. It's True!

This should be an interesting session in the Legislature. Here is a quite informative article from the Missouri News Horizon quoting Republican and Democratic lawmakers on the subject of educational reform.

Here is the Republican stance:

Rep. Scott Dieckhaus, R-Washington, chairs the House's Elementary and Secondary Education Committee. He said he wants his committee to be aggressive when considering reforms to the state's education system.

"Everything is on the table," Dieckhaus said. "Whether it's tenure, whether it's making sure we're not sneaking kids through the system by social promotion, whether it's...vouchers and open enrollment, and all the things that have been pulled off the table in past legislative sessions, I want to have a true dialogue on those issues this session."

That sounds on its face exciting and visionary. Some of it is. Some of it isn't so wonderful. Open enrollment will kill local school district autonomy for setting their student make-up. Open enrollment will cause deficits to schools as reimbursement will not cover the full amount necessary to educate the child at the district's set rate. Who will pay for the additional resources necessary for an influx of students? The district? The state? How can a district set a realistic budget? Charters weren't mentioned, but they are a big item in Educated Citizenry 2020. If a true dialogue is desired by the lawmakers, perhaps taxpayers should understand they may very well be under the same mandates as public schools having to adhere to common core standards.

Robyn Wright-Jones, Democrat from St. Louis said this:

But one of the Senate's leaders on public education, Sen. Robyn Wright-Jones, D-St. Louis, warns that moving too fast on controversial topics such as open enrollment and tenure reform takes the focus away from a root cause of educational deficiency in the urban core -- the lack of economic opportunity for parents of school children.

"When we have a decent wage in every household, and we have our parents working, they can do a traditional family plan, where there's money to do the things they need to do, then test scores will improve," Wright-Jones said.

She said open enrollment is not the answer to educational inability. She favors keeping students close to home.

"We need to put our neighborhood schools back on the block, down the street from where our children live," Wright-Jones said. "You send a very bad signal to a kid when you put him on a bus at five in the morning and take them off at seven (at night) and tell them they just got a better education."

She's right. She sounds like a traditional Republican (jobs, jobs, jobs and traditional family) and fostering community pride. The Republicans sound like traditional Democrats (curriculum mandates, increased spending and unfunded mandates created by common core standards).

House Speaker Tilley said:

...the status quo is not good enough anymore.

"Every year, people who are opposed to educational reform say 'No, this isn't a good idea, this isn't a good idea...' Tilley said. But they don't come up with alternative solutions and we continue to shuffle thousands of kids through schools that just aren't doing their jobs."

We have our ideas on educational reform. Return the majority of educational decisions to the state and reduce our dependency on the federal government for funding. Could it be we are in trouble because we are going broke trying to fulfill the endless mandates coming out of Washington? After all, for every dollar we send to the Department of Education, we get back 80 cents. That doesn't seem like a very good investment for taxpayers and students.

Cutting our strings to Washington would be a good first start. Isn't that what the Health Care Freedom Act was all about? How about we start an Educational Freedom Act? We don't like the health mandates OR the educational mandates. There is no difference in the amount of control in either healthcare or education. Decrease federal control and spending. Sounds like a good plan to me.

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