Friday, June 29, 2012

State's Rights and Schools

Any State with the Right Reason discusses the state of No Child Left Behind waivers granted by the federal government to 19 states as of today:

"What do you call a federal law from which 19 of the 50 states have been formally exempted? That would be the No Child Left Behind Act, the 2001 law passed by bipartisan majorities that is now disowned by both the left and right.

. . . the Obama Administration continued its administrative rewrite of the statute by adding eight more states to the 11 it had already exempted from the law's main requirements. "These states are getting more flexibility with federal funds and relief from No Child Left Behind's one-size-fits-all mandates in order to develop locally tailored solutions to meet their unique educational challenges," Secretary of Education Arne Duncan said.

Locally tailored solutions, flexibility with federal funds, no more one-size-fits-all mandates—sounds as if Mr. Duncan has had a mind-meld with Jim DeMint. Alas, no.

The law's expectation that 100% of students meet certain standards in math and reading by 2014 was unrealistic and needed to be changed. But Mr. Duncan is mainly responding to pressure from teachers unions that hate No Child Left Behind because its testing standards and transparency have let millions of parents know for the first time how truly rotten their child's school is. He's also exempting only those states that accept the Obama Administration's priorities (such as core national standards) that it couldn't get through Congress. This is faux federalism.

No Child Left Behind served a purpose in raising expectations for all schools and even the poorest students, but its accountability provisions are now in jeopardy. Better to return education cash and control to the states and drive reform with universal school choice in which the money follows the child."

Summing Up

Perhaps the recent votes in Wisconsin, San Diego and San Jose will cause people to take another look at government schools and the subsidiarity principle.

Let's hope so.  Better yet, let's insist on it.

Thanks. Bob.

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