Saturday, January 22, 2005


Blogger friend Phil from The-Bottom-Line asked blogger friend J. Marquis: Do you support eliminating the federal Dept of Education and turning over the responsibilities to the states?

I thought about the question, and answered it on Phil's blog. With only a couple of edits, here is what I wrote. I know I've pontificated at grandiloquent length about this already, but it's a matter of importance to me, so here we go again:

As long as schools are able to survive without the federal money, I don't mind if it's all turned over to the states.

I view NCLB as little more than a method for the right wing to systematically defund the public schools so they can become privatized. The bar which schools must meet in order to not lose funding is set higher every year until it supposedly reaches 100% in something like 2012. The current levels schools need to reach are fairly easy to get to. As the bar is raised annually, schools will continue to be rated as to whether the whole school is at a specific level of achievement, but a school can fail if subgroups (and there are a number of them) don't reach criteria, and those are groups like non-English speakers and the learning disabled; the mentally retarded are included as failures every year, practically by default!

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(Oops! Sorry, I already used this picture in the previous rant about the inauguration... but I will intentionally use it again here for emphasis.)

I need to do some research and find out just how much money the schools get from the federal government before I go stating a real opinion. If money is taken away gradually every year, schools won't have much left with which to stay open by eight years from now.

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Then again, I think that's the whole idea.

I work in schools, and I see cutback after cutback. We no longer have PE teachers in our district, and it seems as if subjects like art and music are always on the chopping block. I think we need some kind of national standards, or a general expectation of what kind of education a school should provide... otherwise some states might go ahead and start eliminating the arts, and teaching religion in the classrooms.

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So, that means that until I know just how much money the schools would lose if the D of E was abolished and states took over complete control, I'd have to say I am still in favor of federal oversight. Doesn't mean I like it a whole lot, but I want the schools to survive. I like the idea of local control, and I wish it could happen. Bush doesn't seem to trust the states or the people... government has expanded during his time in office.

I know it should seem odd that someone like me, who works in schools, wouldn't know more about from where the money comes. I don't pay much attention to that because what I love doing is serving kids, and that's my first concern. As more money is taken away, I pay more attention. I guess I need to pick up my learning pace, or else by the time I really know what funding comes from where, there will be no money left about which to learn!

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Blogger J. Marquis said...

I think a lot of conservatives are starting to wonder what kind of Republican Bush is. They advocate states rights and a smaller national government and he pushes for more Federal control over education, law enforcement and social issues like medical marijuana and assisted suicide.

3:49 PM  
Blogger Snave said...

The words "control freak" immediately come to mind...

4:46 PM  
Blogger ALa said...

I would hate for my children to see pictures like the ones on your blog -- I wouldn't allow it even if Kerry had won and they were right-wing photo-shopped pics of him. You are an educator of young children and this is so disrespectful to the office of President it sickens me. I didn't like it when it was Clinton and I don't like it now... You are supposed to be the 'elder' and to be setting an example of respect...If we can not do it for the highest office in the land, then who for?
Sorry for the lecture...but I think it's something you should think about...

7:39 PM  
Blogger Snave said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

8:38 PM  
Blogger Snave said...

Sigh... ALa, thanks for your friendly advice. I know the last post was pretty interesting. Turds 'n puke 'n stuff. My blogsite won't get THAT interesting very often. I can safely promise that. Seriously, sorry if you found that stuff offensive. Other posts? Are you referring to the one about the Emperor? Or just the fact I'm making fun of Bush in general?

Although you don't post images in a similar vein to the ones I post, and although your blog tends to have a rather nice, businesslike approach, you can be fairly disrespectful to others too, mainly to Democrats in general. I've read some of your comments on other blogs with great interest. We are both human beings. The stating of opinions is a sword that can cut both ways, not just one... although your points are well taken.

I obviously don't have a lot of respect for Bush himself, or for his buddies. You also obviously don't have lots of respect for the opinions of those who disagree with you. As for the office of president? When it's occupied by someone like Bush, for whom my dislike is visceral, I find it hard to respect the office as well. Respect was a difficult thing for me to give at times when Clinton was in office too. You should know I'm not in love with the Democratic party, and I don't take whatever Democrat leaders say as gospel... I have always been more anti-Republican than pro-Democrat. It's just that the Dems are the only real alternative to the GOP at this point, and I don't think the current administration even speaks for a majority of Republicans. As a matter of fact, all the Repubs I know are nice people, and living where I do, I know a LOT of them. You can call me a "liberal" if you like, although I am against taking away all the guns, and I'm against stopping the timber industry from harvesting trees. There are obviously some things we would agree on, but I doubt that feeling it necessary to respect Bush just because he is president would be one of those things.

My students at school? I suggest to them that they examine the issues and make their own decisions. Same goes for my own children. Should any of them happen across my weblog and question me about it, I would explain my views and apoligize if they found anything offensive. Then I would encourage them to seek a variety of views, and make their decisions thusly.

I'm not sure that because I work in special ed in the schoools I should have to put much tighter reins on what I think or post than others should have to. Speaking of special ed, not very many things offend me... although I did notice you using the word "'tard" when referring to Ms. Liberty in one of your messages on JB's site. THAT offended me... I know it was probably just in fun, but as someone who works with the mentally retarded, words like that get me goin'. I wouldn't have said anything, but here we are talking about offenses...

I may well get away from using excessive visual scatology, as that is pretty disgusting. After a little while longer, I may even remove a couple of the pictures from the inauguration rant. As for getting away from posting Bush cartoons or unflattering images of him, I fear that may continue. I'm not too concerned about folks getting offended about that!

I do feel badly if I offended your sensibilities, and I apoligize for that. Knowing how I feel about Bush, you might expect me to post items about him that aren't flattering on this weblog. On the other hand, just for you, I promise I will pay closer attention to what he does. If Bush says or does something I think is worthy of praise, I will write an opinion about it. I know, you aren't holding your breath... ;-)> But I'll keep looking. Believe me, I would like to have faith in the ability of the president to lead the nation.

8:38 PM  
Blogger ALa said...

No, nothing to do with your posts (the written word)... I think you probably have an idea by now that I don't have 'fragile sensibilities'...just the pictures. Pictures that young children walking by a computer can see and have no context for...and be confused by... that's all. Like I said, I didn't like it when people did it with Clinton either --I guess I still have that corny respect for the President of the United States -regardless of what party he might represent... (This is one of the few things I am a fuddy-duddy about --but it is hard to explain to my kids when they see some of this stuff --and not just on your site obviously...) I like you though, which is why I felt compelled to say something when I normally wouldn't…

5:58 AM  
Blogger Snave said...

That's o.k. if you are a fuddy-duddy about some things. You should see what a mother bear I become when my girls start to get interested in boys I don't particularly care for... I'll have to get over THAT at some point! We're all fuddy-duddies at some point.

I like you too... or I wouldn't have bothered to offer a lengthy apology with explanations. I rarely apologize or admit error to folks with opposing political views, which makes me more like our president that I might want to be. 8-)>

8:14 AM  
Blogger Phil said...

Snave (I am also going to double post),

I appreciate those that are willing to take on the task of teaching our rug rats. There are some that are quite useless (teachers that is), but those that attempt to make a difference have the ability to positively impact someone. Most people just have jobs, some people have professions, teachers have a calling. I hope you are one of the few with the calling.

Back to the issue. We live in a federal system. This means that our national government has certain responsibilities, and the state governments have other responsibilities. Yes, this does have to deal with ‘States Rights’. This theory had been used in the past to restrict access for minorities. This isn’t how I view this issue. We set up a system in which the national government has control over some issues (eg: interstate commerce, defense, international relations, etc), and the state governments have control over other issues (eg: property law, child support payments, and (the topic of this subject) Education). The determination of what school you attend mainly deals with where you life.

The Dept of Education was created by LBJ’s Great Society (can I sue for fraud? it wasn’t even a good society). The goal was to eliminate the problems of race in southern schools. I didn’t experience this, but it appears that many of these problems have been resolved. The problems now aren’t racial, they are dealing more with class and parential involvement.

In my rarely to be humble opinion, I propose to make Education a state responsibility. People claim that they want local control, unless the local people act in a manner that you disagree with. If we don’t think the local government can handle it, then eliminate the state departments and give direct control to DC. I would prefer many states in regulated compotiton to see how does the best perform on standard tests. Let them compete agaist each other. Either way, we cut in needless red tape from the elimination of one layer of bureaucracy.

My proposal is revenue neutral.This isn’t about whether we spend too much or not enough money on education. (We can discuss what teachers should teach, amounts of funding required, special assistance programs, tenture for teachers, and standards such as those set in NCLB in future articles.) I would state that to make this change we should adjust the source and target of funding, but that the overall amount should be locked down.

I don’t think that we have to worry about religion being taught in class anytime soon. It is the court system that is preventing this, not the political arms of the federal government. I’m sure that there are adequate protections in place to ensure that any discrimination issues could be handled. I just have a major problem with allowing the feds to continue taking the lead role in the regulation and funding. If education belongs to the federal government, what is the major role of the state government? Can they be eliminated? Or is it better to eliminate the federal department, allow more flexibility of state departments, and less cost. And you can’t tell me that there aren’t qualified people inside the state that could run education for the state.

Given my limited scope, knowing that there are other issues left on the table such as funding, can those of you that have made it this far in the article support transferring control of education to the state governments? Comments?

7:59 PM  
Blogger Snave said...

Thanks for your post, Phil!

How much money would it save to eliminate the Department of Education? I think that with the deficit worsening and the nation headed toward a possible bankruptcy, maybe the money question needs to be addressed as much as questions of principle, if not first.

I would be perfectly accepting of states taking over education as long as the absence of the federal money wouldn't cause school services to decrease. I need to find out how much of the states' education budgets are dependent upon federal money.

Addressing the matter of principle, it does sound appealing to not have the heavy hand of big government (Bush and Co., in this case) involved in education, particularly now that we are faced with the No Child Left Behind initiative. If we abolished the Department of Education, would that mean we would no longer have to adhere to NCLB? If that is the case, then I could be in favor... because I think NCLB is sound in its general principle but a travesty in practice.

We live in the UNITED States of America. By not having a set of general national guidelines for education, would the country end up with, in effect, 50 little educational fiefdoms? Different states could have vastly different curriculums than others. Would there be vastly differing expectations of students? Extremely harsh or lax? I believe in community, and I think the concept can extend to a national level. Thus, I see the Department of Education as serving a valid function in uniting us as a nation in educational purpose.

If states get to determine their education paths, how soon before the issue of "we want local control" gets down to counties and then to cities and towns? Here in Union County, we might only require the equivalent of a 10th grade education for high school graduation, Harney County might only require a 9th grade education, while Baker County might require a 12th grade education.

I would assume dumping the D of E would essentially be the same for colleges?

I would be in favor of abolishing the Department of Education and giving states the control over education only if specific conditions could be met.
1. Schools could continue to operate at present levels of funding without having to raise local taxes due to loss of federal monies.
2. No Child Left Behind was no longer in effect on a national basis. It could be kept as is, tinkered with, or dumped at the state level, as state governments wished.
3. Some kind of national guidelines for student achievement would be set. As our country slips behind other nations in math and science, I think we need a sense of national purpose in developing goals for our students. I don't think we would need a Department of Education to administer such a set of general guidelines for what we as a nation would like to see our students achieve in school. Some kind of oversight committee that analyzed data and made recommendations could be plenty.

Simply dump the Department of Education and turn it all over to the states just like that? No way. Do it gradually and meet a few conditions along the way? sure, why not! If it would be a change guided by research, analysis, public input and common sense... and not just by gut feelings or intuition... then let's do it.

9:02 AM  
Blogger Snave said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

9:02 AM  

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