Candidate Obama's language about reforming public education was more emphatic and detailed than his discussion of health care. And, making a case for nationalizing public education will attract broader support than the three previous venues (banking, autos, and health care)...President Obama will proclaim public education K-12 as too crucial to the future of the nation to be left in the hands of volunteer citizen committees, also known as School Boards and Independent School Districts. And, the distribution of school financing is, Obama will say, too dependent on the varying affluence levels among the states, and within their divergent communities. All of America's youth are entitled to an equal opportunity to receive a world class education. Anything less is unfair. Equal opportunity demands equal funding. It doesn't take a crystal ball to see this coming...Nationalizing Public Education Comes After Health Care, Lee Cary, American Thinker, 6/11/2009
This thoughtful article on American Thinker by Lee Cary is very engaging, well-reasoned and thoughtful. However, one could ask this question. What difference will it make if the Feds control education?
Fact is, they already do. If a school system receives a nickel in tax money from the Feds, Washington can come in and dictate your curriculum, working conditions, classroom size. They already do this. And it's clear from their main ally in this effort, the National Education Association, and its member teachers (most public school teachers in the U.S.), the “national curriculum” is not mathematics, science, a foreign language, writing and reading, but getting along or, as John Dewey, the originator of this curriculum of good feelings in the early 20th century, might have put it, being prepared to be comradely, docile workers-to-be for the industrial state.
However, as to the reason for making this official, the widely divergent tax base for funding public education through property, or school, taxes, has merit that Cary might examine more carefully. The whole point of public education was to create a system where the accident of birth wasn't the primary reason why you did, or did not, get a useful education. Why should someone in rural Appalachia, where the average valuation of a house is ten thousand dollars, suffer the consequences when going to a poorly staffed public school? Conversely, why should local school districts and their friends among town boards and mayors have the power to bankrupt homeowners to pay for public schools? There's no fairness in either situation.
Indeed, this is the heart of the tax problem in the United States. The federal load is fairly light by comparison to most advanced industrial countries. But, at the local level, taxation is ruining whole areas of the country. Ask people who used to live in western New York, or people who fled Westchester County or California after living there for most of their adult lives. A uniform, national tax system, with equal distribution based on head counts in school districts, is the only fair system in a democracy.
Where things would get hairy, of course, is that the Federal government would also use this to impose a curriculum that reflected the current biases and interests of the ruling party in Washington. One has only to consider Federal support of an ad hoc national curriculum over the past fifty years, and the consequences in graduates blissfully ignorant of subjects that were standard, not advanced, in 1950, such as history, mathematics, language, written skills, reading and interpretation (and a broad reading list), and science.
If the White House were as impetuous as Napoleon, who established a national curriculum in French public education, maybe they'd require something like a real education. That would be something to look forward to, not to fear. But, the writer doubts, based on the evidence, that either party in Washington would risk offending constituent parents worried that their children might fail if actually challenged to learn something.