Saturday, December 16, 2006

Do You Want The Feds To Run Education?

You don't if you believe that the Constitution actually means what it says. And if you don't like NCLB, how can you claim that even more federal control over education would be a good thing?

While these ideas for reform are very interesting and might be worth further study, the larger federal role in education gives me pause.


allen said...

Who should have a larger role in education then? I certainly understand both your constitutional objects and the effects of an inevitably massive, federal education bureaucracy. But what are the alternatives? So called "local control" obviously isn't working out. Day-to-day state-level control of public education hardly seems like a fruitful choice. What's left?

To me it's as clear as glass that as control of the education system moves farther from the school, up a bigger hierarchical organization, the worse things get. But it takes an effort of will to imagine that the solution to the problems of over-centralization lies in decentralization. Of course, that's exactly the lesson that's emerging from the charter school movement since the schools, in the main, do quite well without guidance from the district administration.

I wonder how long it will be before I run into the second person who sees that?

Lone Pony said...

I read that article in the Washington Post and I linked to it. I like some of the ideas it proposed.

I don't like NCLB and I don't believe more federal control over education would be a good thing.

I've only been teaching for two years, but I've seen the difference that parents and community can make in a school district.

Something I've never done is look at what the Constitution says about education. I'm going to do just that. Thanks Darren!

Darren said...

Let me save you the trouble, Lone Pony. It doesn't say anything.

And I *support* NCLB. But if it were to go away tomorrow on federalism grounds, I'd be ok with that. I'd just want to ensure that so many other usurpations would also go away, not just NCLB.

Anonymous said...

“Constitution actually means what it says.”

Big debate over what such is. Still, many problems occur when you have a democratic document governing a republic.

Actually, by the 1790s, the constitutional delegates themselves could not agree on their intentions and what the Constitution meant and James Madison was actually the first strict constructionist. Ha!

Oh, Federalism was just as fractured as the Republican and Democratic parties today.

Anonymous said...

"Big debate over what such is."

Only among those who can't read English.

Anonymous said...


Most of the government's regulation of education comes under the Spending Clause, a catchall that allows the federal govenrment to "spend for the general welfare" and a Supreme Court interpretation that says the federal govenrment can attach just about any reasonable (as defined by Congress) strings to the money it spends.

This is the rationale behind lots of federal regulatory actions and involvement. Now, I am more than willing to argue that the spending clause as it is used today needs to go the way of the dinosaur, but until you get different law, it won't happen.

Having said that, the role that I would like see the federal government take on is the purveyor of excellence, serving as a clearing house of successful programs, curricula and standards so that others may have access. But that is far too limited a role for many groups in education, so the politics of it are tough.