Matt Abe at Scholar’s Notebook notes a couple of GOP-sponsored bills that might just be a step in the right direction:
A pair of bills with bipartisan support (HF 2007 and SF 1768), including Senate authors Sen. David Hann (R-Eden Prairie) and Sen. Warren Limmer (R-Maple Grove) and a raft of DFL authors in the House, would withdraw Minnesota from the federal No Child Left Behind Act (NCLB).
Although such a move would also cause Minnesota to lose federal education funding, it would also allow the state’s schools to emerge from a variety of federal mandates, many of which are unfunded or underfunded, which would free up money currently being spent to comply with these mandates. The state would actually save money and regain more control over its schools by withdrawing from NCLB!
This is one of those areas where in the past I’ve bit my tongue around some of my fellow Republicans who’ve been interested in “education” issues; NCLB tries to put lipstick on a pig, trying to bring principles of accounting to providing “accountability” to education. An admirable goal, perhaps, especially given the 13 billion we spend on education in Minnesota every year, but it only works if one picks the right measurements. And standardized testing is not just the wrong measurement – but the current system, which essentially forces schools to “teach to the test”, is downright harmful to actually “educating” children.
Constitutionally, eduation is a state function that should be administered by the state and locally-elected school boards, not “regional” boards, the federal government, or the United Nations. The Legislature should pass this measure swiftly, and Governor Pawlenty should sign it into law this session. It would be a major victory for the local control of our schools.
And if there’s anything public schools need to survive, it’s more, not less, localism.