State of the Union, State of Education

The political highlight of the month will be the State of the Union address by President GW Bush and things seem more complicated than the last January performance report.

Funding for the educational reform of NCLB is a big question mark. At least from a federal level, Bush has made it clear that he’s going to give the local school more federal dollars with more strings attached–and this is understandable. Too many reforms have been a federal dollar sinkhole and still the nation thinks that our public schools are substandard (so let’s follow the US business model and set standards…and we should have students take a class in COVERING YOUR TRACKS 204, lesson 1: Dodge ball is out, document shreading is in).

Former domestic policy adviser for Reagan and Papa Bush now turned media expert James P. Pinkerton thinks the answer for funding education is to set a dollar cap for every student in this free land of the brave. In his thoughts for Atlantic Monthly’s preview of State of the Union, Pinkerton asks/tells us that we should follow the Pell Grant program for dispersing the $7k.

His point is well taken. His example of “poorer” states like Mississippi who only allocate $4k is a compelling one. Local control of monies (and curiculum?) has yielded many an unjust practice. Those communities inflict their values on their schools and their society because a community is just that. Local control of a community is the American (I mean, the US) way of life. More federal control is also a fundamental idea in the land of the free and the brave. The tension of local and federal governments is at the core of our version of democracy.

Question: Where did we decide as an nation that all parts of this great nation must be standardized? Why should, say Indiana, be compared to California (though Indiana did plagarize some of their education standards from the Golden state)? Does more centralized control solve any problems for a community?

It’s a Big Yellow Taxi day for me and I’m not sure what King George is listening to this nippy Monday morn.

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