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  • Local Control Is the Key to Education Reform

    Federal Preschool Programs

    Greater federal control is not the answer to improving the nation’s education system. And Rep. John Kline (R–MN) agrees. Speaking of the current push for states to adopt national education standards—specifically the federal government tying federal Race to the Top (RTTT) and Title I funding to states’ adoption of the standards—the Congressman told Education Week:

    I’m very leery when [the action] shifts over to the U.S. Department of Education providing either rewards or punishment [for adopting certain standards]. That’s dangerous.

    There is also funding, included as part of the federal RTTT program, to aid states in creating common assessments. Said Kline:

    That’s not our job. … If you’re starting to put the federal government in charge of assessments, standards, you’re moving in a way that I don’t think Americans want.

    Besides pushing states to adopt national standards, RTTT would tie states closer to Washington bureaucracy. Kline again:

    This is the U.S. Department of Education, putting [out its] view of what needs to be done. … It’s not the states deciding. It’s not local control.

    He noted that what the U.S. needs to do instead is reauthorize No Child Left Behind in such a way that gives states greater control. Unfortunately, he indicated that teachers and school administrators in his district aren’t too happy about the Administration’s current plans for reauthorization, stating that teachers in his district have “objections to anything … that comes in and tells them how to do their job.”

    “One of the things that we’ve been insisting on,” Kline said, “is that we have to make it simpler, easier to comply with, and more flexible, therefore putting some meaning back into local control.”

    National standards and RTTT would do exactly what parents, teachers, and communities don’t want: It would give Washington even greater power to tell schools how to do their jobs. Decades of increased federal red tape have not helped students succeed. The answer to education reform is greater local control. It’s time for Washington to step back and let parents, teachers, and states do their jobs.

    Posted in Education [slideshow_deploy]

    6 Responses to Local Control Is the Key to Education Reform

    1. Billie says:

      These are the minds of our children. They are not to be tampered with or influenced by authority out of our control! No feds necessary and state at bay, we want our children experts at the basics with opportunity to go beyond at their ability to do so. We want them to achieve on their own with no federal short cuts. limits or bias. All based on intelligence and nothing else!

      Our children are off limits!

      Government and unions represent a poorly educated society. Get them out!

      The mind is a terrible thing to waste on unjust, unknown and unfavoring indoctrination.

    2. Ron, Bonita Springs says:

      Recently the local School Board (Lee County) published their budget for the upcomming school year $1.4 Billion for 79,586 full time students or $17,944 per student and $538,337 per 30 student classroom.

      At the same time they published a stucy that the average bus transportation cost per student is $363 per year or $10,890 for 30 student classroom.

      The utility and maintenence cost per pupil was $419 per year or $12,570 per class of 30 students.

      The average teacher compensation including benefits was $83,560

      The bottom line is shocking………… only 20% of the annual per pupil spending is for the teacher, the buses, and mainting and operating the classroom. 80% is spent on costs not directly related to the classroom!! No wonder our education system is failing, we are wasting our school district resources resources.

      THis is not unique to this school district, and yet no one seems to understand or care how the schools spend the money??

    3. Drew Page, IL says:

      I too believe that local control of education is better than federal control. Unfortunately, some people believe that giving up local control of schools in exchange for receiving federal dollars is worth it. But realize that when you take money from anyone, especially the government, they own you. Do you really want the federal government deciding what books will be used and what versions of history, the Constitution and science they will be teaching your kids? Do you trust them that much? I don't.

      When it comes to providing for the common defense, regulation of inter-state commerce and U.S. highways, providing the rules for federal elections, control of international affairs and embassies, regulation of immigration, administration of Social Security and Medicare the oversight of the federal government is necessary. When it comes to education, Medicaid and other forms of public welfare programs, I believe these should be left to the various states.

    4. Bruno Behrend says:

      This post is accurate up to a point. The problem lies in the myth that the "school district" provides the model for local control. It doesn't.

      The school district, as a concept, sounds fine until you realize that it is an artifice that provides the appearance of local control, while simultaneously allowing for the centralization of education policy.

      In theory, one might be able to say that a school district creates an opportunity for local control, but even there, moral problems arise. Leaving aside benefits of various socio-economic environments, it is a violation of the equal protection clause to have more money spent on a child in a rich suburb than in a poor city or rural area.

      There is only one real solution, and that is for states to take up their proper role in education and fund each child equally in that state. You CANNOT accomplish this inside the concept of the school district. If you are funding districts, you are NOT funding children.

      I realize that this sounds radical, as we were all programmed to "be true to our school." Please shed that silly notion and be true to our children. If you do your research, you will notice that districts, along with teachers unions, are the greatest obstacle to reform(s).

      Fund Children, not districts, unions, buildings or bureaucracies.

    5. Drew Page, IL says:

      Mr. Behrend, I agree with some of what you say. Some school districts do indeed cause more problems than they solve. If you are a professional (doctor, dentist, pharmacist, lawyer, real estate or insurance broker, etc.) you must have fulfilled certain educational requirements, become licensed by the state, satisfy continuing education requirements and become bonded. You can't even go fishing without a license. But when it comes to getting elected to a school board, at least here in Illinois, the only requirement you must satisfy is that you must have lived within the school district for 3 to 6 months, depending on the district. These school board members are responsible for spending millions, in some cases, hundreds of millions of tax dollars on our schools. Most have no business experience, many do not have a college degree, and several use the position of school board member as a stepping stone to higher political office.

      That said, I have seen comparisons of the average annual amount spent per student by the Chicago Public School system. In many cases, that amount is far more than the average annual amount spent per student in our wealthier suburban school districts. So I don't buy your premise that kids in poorer areas don't have as much spent on them than the kids in wealthier suburbs.

      You want to improve the performance of public schools? Come up with an alternative system in which to deal with miscreants and juvinile delinquents (i.e., gang bangers, thugs and those who just don't care about learning). If that means resurrecting reforms schools, so be it. Maybe we could give these reform schools nicer sounding names like 'alternative learning environments'. Public school teachers currently have to deal with these people while the school administrators and state representatives, safely enconsed in their offices outside the classrooms don't have to worry about their safety and the safety of the other kids. About a year ago, there was a story about a teacher in a public school in Elgin, IL. She had a 'student' who didn't like her, so he stabbed her in the face and neck. She lost an eye. The newspaper reports referred to this attempted murderer as "a troubled youth". This is only one example of the kinds of things public school teachers must put up with. From something as harmless as students ignoring their teachers, to insubordination, to being cursed at, to intimidation, to physical violence, teachers in the public school system must put up with it all. Not only the teachers must deal with this, but the other kids who are not problems but have to exist in the same environments.

      Is it any wonder why people do without other necessities in order to send their kids to private schools? In private schools when this kind of behavior is encountered the student is expelled, something that can't be easily done in a public school. I don't care if you are from a wealth family or a poor one, a thug is a thug and these kids should not be allowed to participate in a normal school setting until they become civilized or reach the age where they are no longer required to be in school. As long as we continue to pusseyfoot around and continue to use euphemisms like "troubled youth" to described young criminals and force teachers and good kids to tolerate their presence, the "crisis" in education will continue.

      This "No Child Left Behind" ideology sounds nice, but it doesn't work "You can lead a horse to water, but you can't make it drink. You can send a kid to school, but you can't make him/her think." You have kids in school who just don't want to be there and who couldn't care less about learning. And yet our teachers are continually being told by school administrators "You are accountable. You must find a way to motivate these kids. You must find a way to teach those who will not learn." Then the administrators go back to their offices, content that they have done their jobs by telling the teachers "it's your problem."

      Just remember, nothing is impossible, to the person who doesn't have to do it.

    6. Pingback: Eight Questions: John Kline

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