Saturday, August 28, 2010


I was watching a political show with a liberal friend recently, when someone on the TV used the talking point that Republicans want to abolish the federal Department of Education. She hadn't been paying attention, perhaps, because when I commented in supporting that idea, she said "they already did that!" When I asked "who did it?" she said "Bloomberg." Then I got it. She was referring to Mayor Bloomberg's takover of the powers of the NYC Board of Education. The record of improvement since then is well known, which was my final comment on the subject, in that conversation.

Abolishing the federal Department of Education is only possible by creating a new, smaller bureacracy, to handle funding to the states on an equal "per capita" basis. That said, the case for abolishment is fairly straightforward: Public schools have declined steadily since the creation of the DoE. It is a failed experiment of national bureacracy that's having an extremely damaging effect on more than one generation of our youth. I've seen the college kids who can't read, write, or do basic math, in the real world, and it's sad. Of course, there would have to be serious education "reform," but the states would handle that on their own.

If there is a "string attached" to federal funding, it should be based on student performance. Maybe the bureacrats can translate some tests from any number of foreign nations that actually expect their students to be able to read, write, and do math. This might be necessary, because states like mine (NY) already do crazy things with the "testing" and "scoring" methods, to boost funding. The problem in NYS is being addressed, to some degree, and all schools took a cut in their percentages of students' proficiency ratings.

That's the point. While state education systems can be corrupted, it's easier to reform them than it is a corrupted national bureaucracy, which is what the DoE is. If it's looked at objectively, it's been a huge failure. Attempts to "reform" it, or make it more "accountable" have only bloated the bureacracy further (see Kennedy's "No Child Left Behind" law, which Bush supposedly "underfunded").

Even with an intelligent man at the helm in Arne Duncan, the Administration had to "bribe" states to increase the "caps" on charter schools, among other reforms. In NYS, they're already bitching that they still could have won the 700 mil with a lower cap ("They" being the "educrat-union political establishment"). This is beyond disgraceful, when charter schools have to have lotteries to accept a small percentage of students who apply.

Some think it has something to do with a "liberal" conspiracy to destroy America. I don't think so, but this is diminishing our nation, beyond a doubt. It's not really about "liberals," though many of the "educrats" are that. It's about power, and holding on to it. I think the "liberal" agenda has become secondary to "I'll contribute to politician X, and I'll keep my program, school district, or job." Again, this is the nature of political bureacracy, but abolishing the federal DofE would remove a layer of bureacracy that has plagued this nation far too long.

Cities, even ones as big and liberal as NYC, have been trying to improve their education systems, under onerous state and federal regulation. As noted above, NY State is "facing the music" about this now. What happened to letting the states compete for having the best education system in the country, and letting others emulate them? That seems to have been the idea behind Sec. Duncan's "Race to the Top" program, and why it seemed like a breath of fresh air, at first. In context, it's a sad commentary on how low our educational/political establishment has fallen; that it takes a blatant bribe to do something that helps educate our children. I have no problem with any politician that advocates abolishing the Department of Education, though that position has been labeled "extreme."

...or we could try "reforming" it, yet again...*sigh*

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