Friday, December 9, 2011

Ludicrous: Fed Ed is necessary?

From HuffPo, my response and commentary are in regular text, the article in italics.

Shifting power from the federal to state governments isn't the solution to education reform in America. It's a bad idea and it will only make a quality K-12 public school education for all children an unreachable ideal.Steve Jobs attended public schools in a poor California neighborhood. He had the good sense -- at a tender young age -- to demand that his adoptive parents move him to a better school by threatening to drop out.
Well, the problem here is with ESEA (1965) which really got the ball rolling on the federal control o education (all under the kind guise of the war on poverty). With Fed. Ed and ESEA, equal funding "supposedly" is given to schools. This is aided by having school boundaries so that a certain neighborhood attends a certain school, unless of course they are de-segregated schools that bus minorities to caucasian-majority schools and the like...but even then, the students do not have say in where to attend school. The only way to attend a school that best fits your needs is to a)move b)attend a charter or c) private school.

Imagine that: Jobs could have been a middle school drop out!
I can understand this argument, but, he could have been home-schooled, many successful icons were compulsory school or college drop outs. There is a difference (sadly) between education and schooling.

Steve was lucky they complied, as are legions of Apple fans. Many children are not so lucky, however.

Ahem. Back to my point that schools should have fluid borders, but gasp, the educational/institutional complex (inc. unions) want nothing of that.

And things could get much worse for them if presidential candidates promising to "turn out the lights" at the Department of Education get their wish. We all know that there is much wrong with public education in America and want to fix it. But getting the federal government out of the business of education is a bad idea.
Because Government has such a great track record...(sarcasm)

Quality schools provide a pathway to jobs, opportunities, and success. America's beleaguered public schools place many children at a competitive disadvantage relative to children with better schooling alternatives.
Exactly, our public schools are "beleaguered". I'm not against public schools necessarily, but against how they are run. The reason we have these lackluster schools is, well, a complex web of issues, but binding children by geography, to a school that perpetuates a broken system, is plain wrong. However, I do not think the author shares my perspective in this sentence.

Voters that depend on public schools should know that shifting complete authority for public education and school financing to the states is a terrible solution for black and brown children, disabled children, children of the poor, the struggling middle class, and the Occupiers all across the nation protesting the growing wealth gap between the haves and the have-nots.
And how? Why? Our educational system has not vastly improved since ESEA. The achievement gap between rich and poor, minority and not, is not disappearing. Reagan's A Nation At Risk blatantly pointed out that, hello, there is a disparaging difference among educational quality and attainment across the nation. NCLB, and now Race To The Top, yet again addresses this issue. If what we are doing, and have been doing for quite some time, was effective, we'd see it by now. But we keep doing the same thing. Garbage in, garbage out. Doing the same thing many times and expecting different results is insanity. And how is shifting education, making it more local, bad for disadvantaged students? What does DC know about the complex demographics of California? Of my small town?

Republican presidential candidates want to shift control of public education from Washington to Albany, Austin, Tallahassee, Topeka, Harrisburg, Hartford, Madison, Montgomery and other state capitals across America. Newt Gingrich wants to weaken Washington's role in public schools by limiting its power to gathering education-related statistics.
With ideas bouncing around of collecting data ( on things like age of mother at child's birth, birthmarks, condition of gums and teeth etc...I say, go Newt- strangers need not know those things about my amily, and besides, what good would they be in education? Maybe we will get more testing subgroups. Special Ed, Black, Hispanic, Gum Disease, Premature, Wine Stain Birthmark, etc.

Mitt Romney, a former defender of No Child Left Behind, now wants "to get the federal government out of education." Michele Bachmann promises to shut down the Department of Education if she's elected. And Rick Perry not only decries federal expansion into public schooling, he deems it unconstitutional and counter to the value of local control.Other Republicans, some Democrats, and many education reformers don't want to get the feds completely out of education. They want the federal government to support the creation of semi-private alternatives to traditional public schools, such as charter schools, and to support greater school choice. These pro-charter and pro-school choice reforms have gone hand-in-hand with rallying against teacher unions, teacher tenure, and calling for greater accountability of school districts receiving federal education funds.
While I disagree with some of the direction of the accountability movement, and am leary of corporations running schools, we do need more accountability. Education should be about the children, about education, and about improvement. No one can argue against that, right? And PLEASE someone, explain the "evils" behind school choice? I see it as pro-student, pro-education. I do not see it as anti-teacher. If the reactionary cry of "public education will end" is true, and with that, the fear of loss of a job, umm.....go work at the replacement school. If the free market economy dictates things properly, experienced, knowledgeable, skillfull, accountable teachers will be desired if not demanded. Voila. A job. If you are a teacher no one wants, then perhaps you are in the wrong career field. And worker's rights will still exist thanks to unions, because of worker's rights. And perhaps the workers will create their own unions, too.

Distrust of Washington has been a primary motivation for those seeking to get the feds out of education. But it's unclear why we should entrust state governments with greater authority over public education and school financing, especially when not all that long ago a sitting president had to deploy federal troops to escort children into state-enforced racially segregated schools.
True. But we as a society have come a long way and would not tolerate this. If a faction of society did, the only way you'd be "stuck" with this is if the author and like minds get their way and rid of school choice. With school choice, charter etc, you could escape segregation!

The Republican candidates will object that this is "ancient" history, and that America is now a post-racial society (for God's sake we have a black man and his family in the White House, and until recently another black man running to take his place). They will say that we have no reason to fear that states will use their new powers to return America to racial apartheid or to violate fundamental constitutional rights.
Well if we had a top-notch education in the first place, ignorance would not run rampant and people would hold enough intellect to ensure this did not occur. They'd know the laws to ensure this did not occur. Through education comes liberty, peace, tolerance.

They will say that the real problem is that the federal government is just too damn expensive, and since education is such a big drain on the federal budget (around $68 billion to be exact) it's an obvious place to cut wasteful government spending. So shifting educational authority to state governments is not about wanting to return America to a bygone era of subjecting racial minorities to the tyranny of states hell-bent on forcibly segregating them into undesirable communities with lower quality schools.
Again, school choice. That's all I have to say here.

It's simply about basic economics -- making the federal government less expensive and alleviating the burden on taxpayers struggling to make ends meet.If economics is the main motivation, it is obvious that shifting authority over education from federal to state government is the worst thing that can happen to the millions of American families struggling to find decent jobs, pay their bills, and provide their children with a quality public education. The same economic pressures that are driving Tea Partiers, Anti-Federalists, and fiscally conservative Republicans and Democrats to advocate cutting the federal education budget are also impacting state governments and forcing them to make deep cuts to public education.

It is debatable if money = educational quality, standardized test achievement and graduation rates have not correlated well with the rise in educational spending. I do not advocate cutting teacher jobs and the like, but throwing money at a broken system fixes nothing.

As a result, public schools are increasingly relying upon charity and corporate sponsors for school funding. Who knows? We may not be far from the day where we see McDonalds, Viagra, Cialis, Nike, Apple and other corporate ads and logos in classrooms and school gymnasiums.

I can agree, actually. I don't want to see this happen, but they already run behind the scenes, controlling our lunch programs, curriculum, and assessments.

Lucky families and families with economic resources can take advantage of better alternatives such as private or charter schools or public schools in affluent neighborhoods like the one the Jobs family moved to.
There goes the tired myth that only rich kids or luck kids go to charters and vouchers because they pick the cream of the crop. Sadly, yes, some states follow this practice and tell me how, and I'll rally against it. However, it is illegal in California. Everyone can attend a charter (if there is room) no matter what.
But many everyday American families -- short on luck, bailout money, and still waiting for Superman to rescue them -- can't afford these costlier options. So their unlucky kids will be at a serious disadvantage in the competition for jobs and opportunities to kids from well-resourced families that can afford to buy better schooling, or poorer kids that are lucky enough to gain entry into quality charter schools with limited slots (and not be tracked into remedial or special education slots but that's another article).Putting a quality public school education beyond the reach of some children is unfair and shameful. All parents -- including those that are unlucky or can't afford private school or a house in a quality public school district -- should be able to tell their kids that they can be the next Steve Jobs if only they go to school and make good grades. Cutting the feds out of education, and shifting authority to the states, will only expedite the process of establishing a two track public education system in America: one for haves and the lucky, and one for have-nots and the unlucky.As we look ahead to MLK celebrations, and the ten year anniversary of No Child Left Behind next month, and as we prepare for the 2012 presidential election -- where fair equality of opportunity will be the single most important issue if the 99% continue to raise their voices -- we must figure out how the federal government can work together with the states to provide equal educational opportunity so that all children have a fair shot at being America's next Steve Jobs, and so that all children have equal access to the opportunities afforded by a quality K-12 public education.
Yes. So let's improve, completely transform, our educational system from the top down.

1 comment:

  1. You have excellent responses to the tired arguments of it will take more money to fix education, the educational system is racist and the DOEd is the savior for the educational breakdown.

    If parents had TRUE choice in schools, including NOT having to follow a national curriculum that is unproven, untested and unconstitutional, then maybe, just maybe, we would witness an education explosion that was positive. Instead, states and districts are getting more mandates from the Federal government which cause unfunded programs and more bureaucracy.

    And this improves