"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

Search This Blog

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Education Reform: The Federal Government just "Can't Stop"

Parker Brothers Game Board or Federal Government's Involvement in Education?

The Jefferson City News Tribune published a thought provoking editorial questioning the federal involvement in education and it elicited a spirited discussion in the comment section:


Why are people in public life so reluctant to admit a mistake?

The question resurfaces with the federal government’s insistence on reauthorizing a sweeping education law that 26 states, so far, have abandoned.

The question also is largely rhetorical. Elected officials fear admitting errors will scuttle re-election. So, instead, they strive to appear perfect, a pretense not consistent with being human.

With regard to the “No Child Left Behind” federal education law — championed by former President George W. Bush — the Obama administration’s reauthoritization effort appears inconsistent.

It is inconsistent with granting waivers to states and with Obama’s across-the-board insistence on blaming Bush.

No Child Left Behind poses two important issues: Is education a federal responsibility and are federal standards the best way to improve academic performance?

The answer to the first question — from a constitutional standpoint — clearly is no. The U.S. Constitution largely is silent on education, in contrast to the Missouri Constitution’s emphasis on providing and funding public education.

As a practical matter, however, Americans have raised concerns about statistics indicating U.S. students are academically inferior to their peers in other countries.

Public concerns attract candidates’ platforms and promises. And — for good or ill — education has been characterized as a national problem in need of federal mandates.

But Obama’s waiver option has been sought by and granted to more than half of the states, with another 10 applications pending.

Now, we get this confusing, convoluted statement from Education Secretary Arne Duncan: “A strong, bipartisan reauthorization of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act remains the best path forward in education reform, but as 26 states have now demonstrated, our kids can’t wait any longer for Congress to act.”

But our kids haven’t been waiting; the federal law has been in effect for 10 years. And many states want out.

Failure to push for reauthorization, however, might be construed as an admission that the federal government is imperfect.

And we mustn’t have that. 

Following the editorial are comments questioning the Federal government's involvement in education and the amount of control it wields in directing state/local educational policy and state/local school district budgets. One of the last  comments caught my attention and I  believe demonstrates a lack of understanding of the egregious effects of this current education "reform":

Clayton 19 hours, 16 minutes ago

Now, we get this confusing, convoluted opinion from the News Trib. Has every federal responsibility been listed in the constitution? The answer to this question clearly is no.

The only valuable idea in this piece is the second issue mentioned: "are federal standards the best way to improve academic performance?" Then the author proceeds to ignore his/her own question. So what's the point of this opinion peace? A. To complain that politicians don't admit mistakes? (really?) B. To all but claim that NCLB was unconstitutional? (seriously?) C. To add a few sparks to the tinderbox and get readers debating tired issues in the comments thread? (bingo)

A more well written piece would push us to think about solving the core issue, rather than arguing about the constitution.

And we mustn't have that. 

My thoughts?
Clayton writes:  
So what's the point of this opinion peace? .......C. To add a few sparks to the tinderbox and get readers debating tired issues in the comments thread? (bingo)   
If "tired issues" mean:

  • the privatization of public education with no taxpayer accountability, 
  • the lack of power of states to now set their own educational directives, 
  • federal mandates create an establishment of a national longitudinal data base to track children from birth so they can be assessed for workforce needs.....
...then it's not "Bingo".  It's the Parker Brother's federal government version game of Can't Stop.  More onerous mandates coming at states and school districts won't "reform" education in the least. It just feeds the power hungry federal agencies, creates a huge crony capitalist "edreform" market that will bankrupt states and local school districts, violates citizens' right to privacy, keeps federal bureaucrats employed and doesn't educate students.
Clayton continues: 

A more well written piece would push us to think about solving the core issue, rather than arguing about the constitution.

Clayton may have missed the point the editorial was making: the core issue DOES stem from Constitutional discussions.  The states were to educate their citizens, not the Federal government.  When education became a federal entitlement program (one size fits all)  instead of a state's responsibility to its unique citizenry, what you see is the deterioration of serving students.  The autonomy of the state and local districts has been reduced to becoming facilitators of federal policy. 

The core issue is taxpayers can't make decisions for their schools or their children because of  federal mandates that should have never been foisted on states and school districts.  When personal, local, and state decisions are taken away, what do you think is going to happen?  When "educational opportunity" becomes "educational equity" and the goal is "equal outcome", the solution is obvious: have serious discussions on why the DOEd is involved in education in the first place and reduce the federal involvement in education.

Freeman(1990) defines gender equity as the set of behaviors and knowledge that permits educators to recognize inequality in educational opportunities, to carry out specific interventions that constitute equal treatment, and to ensure equal educational outcomes.
Is this the "Bingo" moment?  Is this the core issue?  Shouldn't we be debating the Federal Government's insistence  and continued spending on a mandate (equal outcome) that can never be realized?  Shouldn't we be questioning, as does the News Tribune: Is education a federal responsibility and are federal standards the best way to improve academic performance?

1 comment:

Keep it clean and constructive. We reserve the right to delete comments that are profane, off topic, or spam.

Site Meter