Kill NCLB; Support the 10th Amendment

No Child Left Behind: Here’s a narrow, specific example of how conservatives need to figure out what they stand for. I think it’s clear that there’s little constitutional mandate for federal management of education, yet our “conservative” President and his administration have developed the most comprehensive education program and associated federal bureaucracy probably since head-start.

Is it clear that education has no federal mandate? I believe it is. There is no mention of public education in the powers enumerated for the federal government. There are clear mandates for the regulation of commerce, coinage, national defense, and various other functions but no specific language on education.

Some will argue that "we the people" are collectively authorized to do whatever we want. Others may cite the mandate to provide for the "general welfare" as justification. I understand those arguments, and they have some debatable merit among liberals, but it seems antithetical for conservatives to cite these justifications. I'd prefer to temporarily concede the liberal support for these points, and focus on the incongruity of conservatives adopting these arguments.

The 10th amendment seems to clearly preclude education as a federal function. "The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people." Since education is not delegated to the United States, it seems to be reserved to the States or the people. I can't quite imagine how this can be argued, but I'm sure some readers are eager to expand my imagination.

So, if for the sake of argument we can assume that education has no constitutional mandate, conservatives ought to reject NCLB. Reauthorization of NCLB will face this new Congress where Democrats may be eager to revamp, overhaul, gut, or kill it for various reasons ranging from altruism to spite against the President. But the likely response from Republicans? Defense on partisan grounds? Reauthorization on the grounds that NCLB is a needed counterbalance to the liberal teachers' unions? Support based on the polling data among soccer moms?

NCLB should not be supported by conservatives. Conservatives who are concerned about this issue need to press their state for standards and testing. They should press their local school boards for accountability, but they shouldn't look to the federal government to subvert state control. The Party that professes that "the best government is that which governs least" should abandon its support for NCLB. - I have little or no hope of this happening.

Michael Smith, Republican Candidate for President

Posted by Michael Smith at December 13, 2006 11:17 PM
Comments
Comment #199185

i have not talked to a single other conservative on this site who i believe would support your message in this post, michael. all the more reason for me to commend you before the insults start flying.

Posted by: Diogenes at December 14, 2006 12:07 AM
Comment #199193

Michael,

The sad fact is that the republican party has long since abandoned the idea of operating within the constitution. The war on drugs, violating the rights of roughly 10% of the population, RICO statutes, anti-gambling laws, War against Poker, etc has shown us that the democratic party isn’t the only party willing to simply ignore the constitution in order to do what it deems as right.

There is only one large political party that has any actual desire to see the constitution preserved as the law of the land, if more people who understood this would join that party it might go a longer way to bringing back our individual rights instead of the do whatever it takes attitude that we are currently straddled with by both the democrats and republicans.

Vote Libertarian!

Posted by: Rhinehold at December 14, 2006 1:36 AM
Comment #199194

Michael,

The one who controls the bank, controls the power. When the Constitution was written, the states were in a much, much, much better postition to prohibit certain federal government powers. It all has to do with cash flow. Power flows in the same direction as the cash. Originally, the cash/power was suppose to flow from the people up through the states and finally to the feds. This gave the people the power to protest state action and the states the power to protest/prohibit federal action. If the feds try to usurp power from the states then the states simply don’t fund the feds. The feds were reliant on the states.

Today, thanks to the federal income tax (which was originally forbidden) the cash now flows downstream. Now it is the state that is at the mercy of the feds instead of the other way around. If the states do not go along with the feds then they lose federal tax dollars. This is NOT the system that the founders setup, it is the complete opposite. Unfortunatly, as long as the feds control the bank there is little, short of a revolution, that anyone can do about it, and they know it.

Rhinehold,

I agree. I always vote Libertarian unless there is a Democratic candidate that I really like. (Funny enough, I have never come across a Republican candidate that I really liked- although if 2008 comes down to between Hillary and Rudy, I may just be voting for my first Republican candidate.) In this last election I did quite a bit of research on the candidates, and I liked what I found on the Libertarian candidates in my area. The problem is that outside the research I did on my own I never once saw a political ad for one of them or even ever heard their names mentioned in the races. If Libertarians are serious about turning the big 2 into the big 3, then they really need to bump up their marketing job and advertise their products better.

Posted by: JayJay at December 14, 2006 2:18 AM
Comment #199195

Michael

Here’s one conservative that agrees with you. Not only should nclb not be reauthorized, but the entire federal Dept of Education should be defunded.

Posted by: Keith at December 14, 2006 2:57 AM
Comment #199198

Michael

I like what I am seeing here. I have long believed that there are institutions at the federal level that should not exist. One could almost go through the alphabet and get three letter ID’s for agencies that should exist at state or more local level. This is the main reason so much spending is at the federal level. If the USDA, HUD, OSHA, HEW, and a whole lot more could be dismantled. Our national debt would have an opportunity to come plummeting down.

Posted by: tomh at December 14, 2006 4:08 AM
Comment #199204

I’m all in…

tomh…Not sure about the USDA, but a lot of federal agencies do not need to exist. Frankly, there is a lot of duplication at the state and federal levels anyway.

In order to make this work, federal taxes need decreased and state taxes increased.

NEVER HAPPEN…the federal political system loves the power.

Posted by: cliff at December 14, 2006 8:37 AM
Comment #199205

Just as a matter of practicality, how do propose children get funding to be educated? Already, a lot of blue states bail out red states. That’s where the tax money goes. What are you proposing? No education for poor kids in poor states?

Posted by: Max at December 14, 2006 8:44 AM
Comment #199206

NCLB shouldn’t be supported by liberals, either. It’s a stick with no carrot.

I do support the positive human right to an education, though. That’s definitely a worthy liberal cause.

Posted by: Joseph Briggs at December 14, 2006 8:48 AM
Comment #199211

Briggs,

Nobody is denying that it is a worthy cause, (I don’t think liberals have a lock on this issue).

The questions are:

Who controls it and to what standard?
Who funds it?
Where is the accountability and to whom?
How do you handle failure?

Not easy questions…

Posted by: cliff at December 14, 2006 10:05 AM
Comment #199215

At a time when America needs more than ever to create and promote national standards for educational input, output, curriculum, and excellence, in order to compete on the international economic and market stages, these fine Republicans want to return American education to the one room schoolhouse of a rural Pennsylvania farm community circa 1776.

America needs a much larger investment in education at the federal level for purely practical future realities. But, here again, we see Republicans following an ideology of state’s rights and 10’s of thousands of local school district standards, instead of trying to bridge over to our future demand for educational excellence.

Sen. Kay Baily Hutchison (R) just saw her bill to authorize import of 100,000 immigrant nurses bite the dust. Sen. John Cornyn’s (R) bill to import Engineers and Programmers from India and China last week also bought the Congressional wastebasket. Republicans here are demonstrating how very out of step they are with the American people and the needs of this country as we move forward in time.

It is difficult to see how the American people can ever trust Republicans again, when they prefer foreign workers to investing in our own children’s education, when they regard foreign nation’s children’s education as superior to our own warranting importing them rather than hiring our own.

Republicans will stop at nothing to lower the cost of labor and improve their private business’ bottom line, and that includes advocating for dumbing down our children so they can justify importing cheaper labor from overseas, all the while saying our own people either aren’t qualified or don’t want to be nurses, programmers, or engineers as Sen’s. Cornyn and Hutchison would have us believe.

They also believe in adding another 100 million population to the 300 million already stretching our national resources thin, and creating demands on infrastructure that have made “RUSH” hour into Snail Pace hour all across our land.

Republicans make great entrepreneurs, just don’t ever trust them with government again.

Posted by: David R. Remer at December 14, 2006 10:57 AM
Comment #199216

Michael Smith,

Could not agree with you more. It’s bad politics, poorly funded and incompetently managed.
Large Federal programs that could and should have been locally instituted, usually fail. This one has.

Posted by: Andre M. Hernandez at December 14, 2006 10:58 AM
Comment #199229

Another Red Herning that the BUSHES ran with, and all it did was run aground, and flounder. A waste of time and tax money.

Posted by: KT at December 14, 2006 12:26 PM
Comment #199234

David,

Can you show me where there is any correlation between an increase in federal spending on education and the quality of education? Imperically it’s seems to be the counter argument that works better. Every year since the department of ed was formed it’s budget has gone up and education quality has gone down. Give the money back to the state and cities where it belongs. We don’t need federal standards for education, we need more control at the community level.

Posted by: Keith at December 14, 2006 12:42 PM
Comment #199252

I think you’re all wrong. Education is on the slide here because text books have become sanitized pablum where history is rewritten so evolution becomes secondary to religious dogma and the VietNam War becomes a side note without societal repercussions. (Have you read your kids textbooks?) Teachers are not respected and are assaulted by parents rather than supported. Grades are inflated and children taught to cheat to make sure the standardized tests are passed to prevent funding reductions.
This is a fundamental problem with our society, not simply the federal governments.

Posted by: Dave1-20-2009 at December 14, 2006 1:48 PM
Comment #199258

Dave1-20-2009,

Do you live in Washington state?

I live there and I see the same issues.
This could be an epidemic.

I for one believe that all education should be administered by the same means as colleges.

If we had a public school system at the state level that prided itself on up to date knowledge, interdependent corriculums and consistent retraining and participation in the educational community as a whole… the high school diploma would acually be worth something.

The federal government is overencumbered.

You can not manage these issues on a socialistic mentality that ‘what is good for here is good for there’.

A state like Wyoming that is dependant upon farming community needs extra attention to agriculture and small business management in their schools.

A state like California that is dependent upon internetional markets and inter-state resource trading needs extra attention to marketing and civil rights in their schools.

What is good for the goose is NOT neccessarilly good for the gander.

Posted by: Bryan AJ Kennedy at December 14, 2006 2:05 PM
Comment #199259

P.S.

VOTE LIBERTARIAN!!!

Posted by: Bryan AJ Kennedy at December 14, 2006 2:06 PM
Comment #199262

Federal money accounts for about 8.3 percent of the cost of K-12 education; the rest is paid for by state and local governments and by private donations. Since 1999, federal spending on K-12 has increased by about 40 percent.

Federal funding is dependent upon states accepting it and the attendant requirements. In this sense, the federal government does not supplant the Constitutional authority of states to provide education. It does provide funding if the states want it and if they agree to the terms.

Is that un-Constitutional? I would think under the “general welfare” clause it’s not. I’m not certain why that justification is, as Michael says, antithetical to conservatives. Either it’s a valid justification or it’s not. One can accept the validity of the justification and still oppose federal funding. I do have to ask, though, if education is not related to “general welfare,” then what is?

At any rate, the responsibility to educate citizens is still the states’.

None of this addresses the effectiveness of NCLB, of course.

Posted by: Trent at December 14, 2006 2:07 PM
Comment #199270

Keith, I have neighbors who spend their money on the lottery - so far it hasn’t made them richer. Doesn’t mean investing in risk is a bad idea.

Investing in our children’s education, doesn’t necessarily mean massive spending either. Just using a carrot and stick approach to elevating passing standards and the volume of learning would have some effect, while elongating the school year and providing national standard online-curricula for both students and parents would have much more positive effect.

Of course, assuring graduating students jobs as opposed to threatening them with imported competition from other nations would help instill incentive and reward into the education process for students as well.

Posted by: David R. Remer at December 14, 2006 2:27 PM
Comment #199302
A state like Wyoming that is dependant upon farming community needs extra attention to agriculture and small business management in their schools.

A state like California that is dependent upon internetional markets and inter-state resource trading needs extra attention to marketing and civil rights in their schools.

I disagree on this. Are those children not supposed to be able to compete for the same colleges? Are they not supposed to be able to compete for jobs or opportunities except in their own communities? I think there needs to be standardization of what is taught across the whole country. I have no problem with schools ADDING to this as long as necessary standards are met.

Posted by: womanmarine at December 14, 2006 5:04 PM
Comment #199306

I think we need to junk NCLB. Kids aren’t flash drives to be stuck in a computer and downloaded to. The things they need to know are complex and not always easily reduced to multiple choices and easily graded papers.

What they really need to do is reduce after-school workload, let the kids work at a normal pace. It’s more crucial to teach kids how to operate correctly than to teach them how to operate at high pace and output.

Posted by: Stephen Daugherty at December 14, 2006 5:11 PM
Comment #199311

David,

Are there enough nurses right now to meet the current demand?

In the early 70’s, I think, there was a physician shortage and we prioritized physicians as immigrants. Lots of the well-established Indian families of today came during that wave. A big wave of Koreans as well. Those original immigrants are now the parents and grandparents of some of the most successful first and second generation immigrants this country has seen. If we have a need that can be met with immigration, I don’t have any problem with adding it. I know a lot of programmers, I don’t know any that have spent more than a month looking for work.

Posted by: Rob at December 14, 2006 5:50 PM
Comment #199322

Trent-

You make a good point regarding the constitutionality of funding the dept. of education. However, the numbers can also be deceptive. Often, the federal money is more desperately needed in the poor school districts where local tax revenues are either lower or widdled away by beaurocratic innefficiency (I read years ago that in the LA School district, 65% of the money went towards administrative costs).

The federal money comes with strings attached that are sometimes meant to avoid being similarly pissed away by a rogue school district, but just as often they open up avenues of litigation that effectively stifle the industry….keeping schools all over the nation from producing anything above a certain level of mediocrity. For example, I’d gladly allow Alaska to stop teaching black history during february so they could instead get their math or science scores up to par. Federal lawsuits could cripple a state’s ability to do its primary job in that case. And I’m not bashing black history or Alaskan schools, I was just thinking on the fly. Use any example you like.

If the federal government wants to help promote a minimum level of competence, then it should give more block grants and let the states do their thing until they’ve proven otherwise. Then go after the real problem by working with the state experts (or bringing in experts if need be) rather than overfunding a black hole, or cutting funding to a cash strapped state based on some bright line rule.

The neediest schools districts, which rely the most on federal money, are going downhill faster than the rest. Maybe thats a sign that the approach isn’t working. If whenever I had some input into something, it went terribly wrong, I’d stop injecting input after a while if I really wanted things to improve. But that’s just me. Government is a much different animal.

Posted by: Kevin23 at December 14, 2006 6:44 PM
Comment #199325

Kevin23 said: “If the federal government wants to help promote a minimum level of competence, then it should give more block grants and let the states do their thing until they’ve proven otherwise.”

What is the consequence for misusing those funds, Kevin? Without a consequence, you just add more welfare to taxpayer’s burden. The Concept of NCLB was brilliant. It’s implementation was mixed at best.

I recommend that the those block grants be petitioned for in the form of a budget. At the end of each year, if that money has not been put to the uses in the budget, or failed to demonstrably improve the aspect of education for which those funds were targeted, then the funding is revoked for a period of 2 years. In the 3rd year, if the budget for the block grant is approved, it is funded at 1/2 the requested amount. If the following year’s review passes muster, full block grant funding may be restored.

There must be consequences for failed performance and abuse of use of taxpayer dollars. It is called accountability and responsibility, two words politicians have an incredibly difficult time wrapping their minds around. So, we voters must encourage them by voting them out of office when they fail to.

Posted by: David R. Remer at December 14, 2006 6:56 PM
Comment #199326

David R-

“What is the consequence for misusing those funds, Kevin? Without a consequence, you just add more welfare to taxpayer’s burden. The Concept of NCLB was brilliant. It’s implementation was mixed at best.”

Out of respect, I’ll repost what I already wrote which answers your question as well as a non-expert can. What else do you want to know? I’ll get more specific if you’d like.

kevin23 wrote: “Then go after the real problem by working with the state experts (or bringing in experts if need be) rather than overfunding a black hole, or cutting funding to a cash strapped state based on some bright line rule.”

Posted by: Kevin23 at December 14, 2006 6:59 PM
Comment #199328

David Remer wrote: “I recommend that the those block grants be petitioned for in the form of a budget. At the end of each year, if that money has not been put to the uses in the budget, or failed to demonstrably improve the aspect of education for which those funds were targeted, then the funding is revoked for a period of 2 years. In the 3rd year, if the budget for the block grant is approved, it is funded at 1/2 the requested amount. If the following year’s review passes muster, full block grant funding may be restored.”

This is still a bright line rule. I’m all for accountability, but if sending in some consultants and making simple changes can vastly improve a bad system, why should that not be the focus? I realize that there must be consequences for malfeasance, but nonfeasance would be held to the same penalty? That’s where I lose you. Sometimes localities just need a little push to get running again. We shouldn’t demand they re-learn to walk.

Posted by: Kevin23 at December 14, 2006 7:06 PM
Comment #199329

Rob asked: “Are there enough nurses right now to meet the current demand?”

That depends. If one, as one should, asks if there are enough nurses to meet American need, the answer is yes. If one asks if there are enough nurses to meet American’s demand, the answer is no. This highlights a fundamental pinnacle of the health care crisis in America.

When health care follows the dollar instead of the Hippocratic Oath, the crises we now witness are inevitable. With 96 thousand patients dying in hospitals each year in America directly due to malpractice, I would venture to say, we may have too many cheap nurses, and not enough good nurses.

When our health system is willing to process as many patients on finite resources as are able to pay the going rate, we have a crisis. It becomes obvious that the concept of triage and taking the higher priority patients first becomes meaningless, even to some extent, in E.R.’s. As doctors perform far more visits and surgeries than are safe to perform, and nurses become administrators first, and health care deliverers second, all in the name of ever greater revenues and profits, the crisis becomes overwhelming.

Adding more nurses addresses the symptom, not the problem. Adding more immigrants only burdens our already overburdened health care delivery systems even more, compounding the problems and increasing the crisis.

Posted by: David R. Remer at December 14, 2006 7:06 PM
Comment #199333

The federal dollars for education come from you and me, the taxpayer. Why not leave those dollars at the state and local level. Otherwise it is the equivalent of giving youself a blood transfusion from one arm to the other and spilling half of it in the process. When the dollars are sent to DC there are thousands of people hired to administer the return to the state and local level. STOP IT!!! Save the costs and taxes used wastefully to the tune of hundreds of milllions of dollars.

Posted by: tomh at December 14, 2006 7:19 PM
Comment #199337

tomh-

I agree with you about federal involvement in education. But what do you do when one state gives a diploma to an illiterate idiot while another gives the same document to only those with proven ability? The public should be always be allowed to decide, through the democratic process, that there needs to be a degree of uniformity that can only be brought about through monetary incentives. the government cannot exert control in regards to state funds, but can control the incentives. Block grants are, I believe, the best incentives because they provide more discretion to the states to do what they know works. But there should also be some guidance, even if only recommendations as to how to get more efficient. If those recommendations are not followed and the results are still bad, then cut them off.

Its not a bad system if you believe that there is a need for it that outweighs the costs (i.e. some states are really doing a piss poor job and can actually benefit greatly by basic federal assistance). But there is little doubt that the more control the federal government wants to exert over its grants, the more beaurocratic nonsense we must endure. And statistics show that performance and beaurocracy have a negative correlation.

Posted by: Kevin23 at December 14, 2006 7:45 PM
Comment #199359

wow. reckon i’m not too proud to admit i was wrong, michael.

Posted by: Diogenes at December 14, 2006 9:55 PM
Comment #199360

tomh, part of the reason we can’t leave education to 6 thousand different standards and school boards and districts is because America is losing its educational competitive edge with other nations.

Being patriotic means taking the necessary steps today to insure America’s greatness and progress tomorrow. There is a reason Mississippi loves Alabama. If it weren’t for Alabama, Mississippi would be the worst state in the union. All Students in America deserve a top quality educational opportunity pre-K thru 12. That won’t happen with each district following a different standard and seeking different goals.

Posted by: David R. Remer at December 14, 2006 10:02 PM
Comment #199370
I think there needs to be standardization of what is taught across the whole country. I have no problem with schools ADDING to this as long as necessary standards are met.

womanmarine,

I think that depends on who is doing the standardization. I do not think that it belongs in the hands of politicians. Fund the school system however we have to, but standards need to be set by someone other than the government. There are inherent dangers in allowing the government to control what our children are learning. When the government controls the standard then the government controls the information being taught. That information may well not be totally accurate or spun for certain political agendas. It has already been done going back to the 1930’s in Chicago public schools.

BTW, do any public schools even teach civics classes anymore?

Posted by: JayJay at December 14, 2006 11:11 PM
Comment #199379

I agree, get rid of it and the dept. of education too only return the tax dollars to the states that pay them for their own public education needs. My kids go to school in California. CA. ranks around 40th in amount per pupil spending. Nothing to be proud of.In the mean time we send billions more to the feds than we recieve in benefits. We are a doner state. We are sending our money to help schools in all those red,”right to work”(for less) states that are too cheap to take care of their own while scrapping to fund ours.

Posted by: BillS at December 15, 2006 2:50 AM
Comment #199382

David Remer,

I find it interesting that the subject of qualified nurses has been brought up.

Two people of my acquaintance have taught at the University level.

I have a friend here in Phoenix that taught computer science at Arizona State, and my brother teaches nursing in Wisconsin.
Both have had the same experience.

They each had difficulty making the class educational enough for the minority of students that truly were interested in the course, and, at the same time, still be able to drag the majority of students through that thought they deserved a diploma just because their parents paid for their education.
Surely every parent has dreams of their children receiving a collage level education, yet they don’t seem to take the time to recognize what their children’s capabilities are, and don’t bother to take the time to teach their children the true value of an education.

There seems to be an “I paid for a diploma, so my child deserves a diploma” attitude toward higher education.

Perhaps we should be paying better attention, at an earlier age to what the child is truly capable of, and stop trying to pound square pegs into round holes.

If the child is interested in being an auto mechanic, perhaps we shouldn’t try to push that child into being a brain surgeon.

Posted by: Rocky at December 15, 2006 7:46 AM
Comment #199392

Rocky said: “Perhaps we should be paying better attention, at an earlier age to what the child is truly capable of, and stop trying to pound square pegs into round holes.”

I agree entirely. That is precisely why our nation needs to make a monumental reinvestment in education, better preparing students for these jobs, and weeding out and redirecting those who are not up to them. That effort must begin in K-12.

Posted by: David R. Remer at December 15, 2006 10:02 AM
Comment #199398

David

“I agree entirely. That is precisely why our nation needs to make a monumental reinvestment in education, better preparing students for these jobs, and weeding out and redirecting those who are not up to them. That effort must begin in K-12. “

We finally agree on something, it’s not the need we disagree on it’s the method. Show me one study that says that national focus on education is better than local focus and I’ll be right behind you. Every study I have seen shows that what is important is local control, smaller schools (not class size) and more control at the school level.

I don’t care what you say, what sells in inner city Los Angeles is not the same as what sell in rural Arkansas.

Posted by: Keith at December 15, 2006 11:35 AM
Comment #199415

Tren,

“Federal funding is dependent upon states accepting it and the attendant requirements.”

That is true, but it is not right from a economics perspective.

For instance, the state of WA and the State of AL have a similar total population.

The average wage of WA is more than AL, so is the minimum wage.

The Gross Product of WA is more than AL.

So WA is paying more dollars to the federal budget than AL, but is getting roughly the same benefits.

I think I would be more accepting of the status quo if it was at least giving back relevent to what was recieved.

Then again if we did that, the idea of giving to the federal budget would be pointless as the would just be returning the same amount.

See where I am going with this, I everyone reading can, it is pretty simple.

In fact, if you are reading this, nodding your head and/or lifting an eye-brow, you may be libertarian and not realize it. I found this out about myself in a similar way.

=)

Posted by: Bryan AJ Kennedy at December 15, 2006 1:31 PM
Comment #199425

David,

You’ve been slamming Alabama a lot lately is there some historic pent up hositility there? Anyway, according to this website: http://nces.ed.gov/nationsreportcard/nde/statecomp/sortingSingleYear.asp, AL is last in Math with some company and above last in other categories (though definitely still in the bottom third).

However, DC the only purely Federally funded school system is also near or at the bottom in every category. How is that working out?

Re: nurses, to resolve nearly everyone of your criticisms of the healthcare system will require more not fewer nurses.

BillS, welcome to the conservative mindset. Local controls rule. Funding should be kept locally for schools. We all agree.

Posted by: Rob at December 15, 2006 3:10 PM
Comment #199430

JayJay said: “There are inherent dangers in allowing the government to control what our children are learning.”

That is absolutely true. That is why a national standard fostered by the Federal government must use a carrot and stick approach, rather than usurping State’s Rights to opt in or out of the standard.

The Federal Government’s success, in other words politician’s electability, will depend upon most states buying into the national standards established, which would force politicians to establish reasonable standards.

If the media does their job and reports on which state’s students are outperforming other state’s students in job acquisition, average pay, awards, etc., the public will have a choice as to which states will provide the best educational opportunity for their children. Currently, D.C., New Mexico, Alabama and Mississippi rank dead last among all other states.

Posted by: David R. Remer at December 15, 2006 4:17 PM
Comment #199434

Rob, BillS (anyone else who is against the D of E)-

I’m 95% agreeing with you that the federal government has proven itself incapable of handling education funding. But the problem still remains that some states are screwing the pooch year after year. Those diplomas are worth just as much as yours and mine. And I really do believe that a quality education helps every single person to be more successful in life and a more productive member of society. So how do we reconcile the two without some sort of federal authority being invoked?

Posted by: Kevin23 at December 15, 2006 5:03 PM
Comment #199440

Kevin23

The best way is for government to get out of the school business all together. Let the market provide the incentive for schools to perform. If I have the choice of which school to send my kid to I will shop for the best performing and best reputation. Competition works in the market place, why shouldn’t it work for schools?

Posted by: Keith at December 15, 2006 5:33 PM
Comment #199447

David,

“The Federal Government’s success, in other words politician’s electability, will depend upon most states buying into the national standards established,”

That has already happened and has been the standard for a loooooooooooong time.


“which would force politicians to establish reasonable standards.”

That has not happened, and probably wont happen for a looooooooooooong time.


In an ideal world, yeah, it would work like that; in an ideal world communism would flourish.

I think we can all agree that this is most definetely not an ideal world.

Posted by: Bryan AJ Kennedy at December 15, 2006 6:31 PM
Comment #199448

Keith,

As much as I would love to see the government broaden the marketplace for education so that the poor can have more mobility options that they do now, State and Local governments can’t abdicate their responsibilities for education. There are too many students that have special needs that require special programs, and there has to be a default choice for the ranks of parents that will be uninterested or incapable of making valid choices for their children.

Keith,

The federal government does not have to have a vested funding interest in the role of education. Despite the statistics, generally, states don’t compete with each other as much as localities do. There are many good localities in Alabama providing quality education to their children. The same is true even in Mississippi.

However, there are more locales in those states that do a below average job. Instead of the Feds, we can take a piece of David’s solution and make sure that “…the media does their job and reports on which state’s students are outperforming other state’s students in job acquisition, average pay, awards, etc., the public will have a choice as to which states will provide the best educational opportunity for their children.” Just add the words city and town.

Unlike David, I believe that the politicians that have the most to answer for this are those that are elected to school boards, county commisssions, and state legislatures. We the people have a more direct link with these people. We see them in our towns. We can set appointment to meet with them. We can go to the open forums without having to jet to D.C. That was the beauty of this confererate system that the framers developed. Those issues that most affect us locally should be handled locally. How does Federal Education standards get the treatment it deserves when it has to compete for time with developing and approving the Federally budget.

As others have said, there are many more capable bodies to define standards and measure progress against them than Congress. We have professional education schools at nearly every major university in the country. They can develop the standards and measure them.

David,

We already have a carrot and a stick approach for education. It’s the real estate market. Communiteis that developed good educational standards and schools have higher real estate prices than their neighbors. That maifests itself in a richer tax base for the schools and more money. It is a direct feedback mechanism rather than a complicated multi-tiered approach that you suggest.

For those that are failing, we need to offer more competition and choices than the local district. But we also need to show up in those communities and say, change. Just like voters did in November. It is possible.

Posted by: Rob at December 15, 2006 6:32 PM
Comment #199458

Bryan AJ,

I’m actually fairly open on this issue, which is to say, I don’t have a firm opinion. I made my previous post as neutral as possible to reflect that.

Posted by: Trent at December 15, 2006 7:52 PM
Comment #199461

Keith and Rob, the answer to both your questions is this: Because the market place caters to the more fortunate, leaving the less fortunate underserved.

In a society with low unemployment, it is in the national interest to elevate the education quality and peformance of as many students as possible regardless of financial condition or school district in which their parents find employment.

Good education should not, in America, be reserved for the more well off middle and upper classes. That is a terrible waste of potential talent and creativity born into lower financial strata. Nor should it be reserved for only those without defect. Supporting the education of the Stephen Hawkins in our country is crucial to future global competitiveness.

The market place is a great place to decide who drives Rolls Royces, Lexus’, and Hyundais. The Marktet Place is not a great place to decide who should have access to good quality education and educational resources.

Posted by: David R. Remer at December 15, 2006 8:18 PM
Comment #199610

I have a difficult time relegating people to a certain level of education based purely by geography. There are a million reasons to live in a given location. To say they deserve less of an education because that school district has fallen through the funding cracks in that state’s and locality’s budgets (which, again, are determined for millions of different reasons, and not solely based on the best interests of education in isolation), is not a good example of of a fair marketplace. Many local taxes are subject to vote, so the places with new development will have a distinct advantage. But older cities need to either jack up prices and further drive out businesses, or they ask for state and federal assistance.

Now someone find me a solution (other than the generic free market BS that doesn’t translate) to the specific problem of, on one hand, making property rights the key to our economy, and, on the other hand, saying that the only way to get a quality basic education (which no one has argued is anything but a good thing for the economy and society) is to move to abandon your stake in the land you live on and move some place where the stars have lined up in favor of local education funding. This is a problem that is more complicated than saying “let the states compete because there is no federal obligation for education”. We are a mobile population now, and it only helps to ensure a high minimum competency level (nothing major, just that we all have basic language, math, and science skills).

I have a problem with schools having to abide by so many levels of authority that they feel stifled, and so I think it is better to have less federal involvement is usually better. But I’m not convinced that the state competition theory is advocating anything but leaving our kids’ basic public education to chance. I know there are private schools, but that’s not a viable financial option for most otherwise quality kids. And they have to pay taxes regardless, so why should they have to weigh education quality of the locale with other factors like job opportunity, climate, etc. I’m not satisfied with what I’ve heard thus far. It solves nothing.

Posted by: Kevin23 at December 17, 2006 6:37 PM
Comment #199652

David and Kevin,

There is no way that education will ever be uniform and fair in the U.S. unless we conscript teachers and send them to undesirable places. There are places where life is hard and people don’t want to live or work. Inner cities typically have a problem recruiting because the work environment is less desirable than the surrounding suburbs. Rural areas have problems because the base of qualified applicants is so much smaller.

However, geography is only one component. The wealth of the area is less of an indicator of funding than the base age of the population. An area that is getting older typically has a harder time getting funding than an area that is getting younger regardless of the overall wealth of the area.

Also, David, we will always have a harder time educating the “Steven Hawkings” of our society until we are able to educate the below average students. The Steven Hawkings are the true out-liers, much less than 1% of the total population. The below average students that are mentally capable make up closer to 30 to 40% of the population (asumming normal distribution). Furthermore, when we fail to educate them, higher and more noticeable social costs are generated than the benefits that we incur when we find and develop one of the Steven Hawkings that has the bad luck to have been educated in a place that doesn’t recognize his brilliance. Because of this, all of our resources in these underperforming places are geared toward preventing problems, not identifying and preserving brilliance.

Posted by: Rob at December 18, 2006 11:14 AM
Comment #199682

Rob-

I’m not looking for fairness as an end in and of itself. I am just looking for any idea that tackles the conflict I raised in a meaningful way without invoking federal authority. I think we all agree that education is a net positive for society. Yet, the only sure way to guarantee a quality public education is to chase the new development money. That is not a good system, and many quality students will slip through the cracks…and I think we can all agree that that is always a net minus for society. We can do better. But can we do it without the federal government?

Posted by: Kevin23 at December 18, 2006 2:59 PM
Comment #199699

Kevin,

I’m not sure that we can do it with the Federal government either. Using funding levels as the measuring stick ensures having to invoke the Feds. Change the yard stick, and I think that the possible solutions grow expotentially.

Btw, of all the research I’ve seen, funding appears to be a pretty poor yardstick.

Posted by: Rob at December 18, 2006 5:49 PM
Comment #199705

Rob-

I don’t like using funding as a yardstick either, but everything costs money. It is a vital unifying element, just not the whole picture. So what is better? The problem of the illiterate high school grad remains.

I think the feds have proven to do more harm than good in making policy decisions. But they are the one authority which binds the states. However, the only authority they have in this area is over supplimental funding. How does one change the yardstick here?

Posted by: Kevin23 at December 18, 2006 6:41 PM
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