Saturday, December 6, 2008


Ok, time for a quick post:

The Doug for President Campaign believes in the dissolution of the Federal Department of Education. The Constitution does not give Congress or the President authority or responsibility to educate. That is reserved to be a matter between the States and the People.

What about the money, you ask? Where will our schools get the money they've been getting from the Federal Government?

From their State Government. You see, large percentages of what you pay in Federal taxes are turned back to the states for the states to spend. What you have is a duplication of the most inefficient part of government, bureaucracy, in areas like Education. No one, for example, disputes that the idea behind No Child Left Behind is bad. After all, the idea was that every high school student in America should be able to read, do basic math, and know enough to survive. The problem with the NCLB act is all of the bureaucracy, the testing, the mandates, where local schools have to prove to states that they are doing well enough to keep the Feds happy.

So, duplicated bureaucracy wastes money. And how much sense does it make for you to pay taxes to the IRS for the IRS to give them to the Department of Education, for the DoE to give them to the state, for the state to give to the local school board? Like we use to say at UPS: TOO MANY TOUCHES! You don't want stuff handled more than necessary, because every touch increases the chance for error, theft, and damage, and every touch costs money. So, by eliminating the redundancy, the Federal Tax rates can come down.

Then, state legislatures can determine what is best for their states, and the states bear the cost, and your local legislator bears the accountability. There is much more need for local input, local influence, because it takes a lot fewer angry voters to get the attention of a state legislator than a Congressional Representative. For example, 1 person represents all of south Arkansas in Congress, but 1 person represents Monticello/Drew County in the Arkansas State Legislature. Who do you think cares more about my opinion? Mike Ross, who has to effectively live in D.C., or Alan Maxwell, who lives in Monticello? So, local influence allows for more accountable decision making.

Which is good, because if you know your local schools are running well, funded well, then you can easily tell someone to leave them alone. And if you know they need help, you know where to go. When your state loses jobs because of a lack of skills or poor education, you know who to go after.

What about problems in schools, like Civil Rights violations? The Department of Justice has a civil rights division. Adequately staff the DoJ to handle it. A school professional or school board that denies civil rights is not deserving to have funding cut off or sanctions, they are committing a criminal act. What do you think bears more weight? We'll equally fund our men's and women's athletics, because we might lose some money, or because the Athelitc Director will go to prison? AD's are fundraisers, they can find rich boosters to make up financial sanctions. They don't want to go to jail. Punish crime as crime, not as slaps on the wrist. And again, local accountability should make a huge difference, because people will know they have to answer.

Is it extreme? Yes, but what we're doing, by most objective measures, isn't really working. True, we have some great schools all over the country, but, by and large, Washington making education decisions doesn't work. The schools that are doing well seem to share some basic characteristics: local involvement, local support, parental involvement, teacher appreciation, local involvement. (did I say that twice? hmm...) I've not seen a story of a school that excelled because US DoE bureaucrats were on top of them. You might point to some that have done well with grants, but again, that money was taxed out of the local area anyway, and could have been provided by local controlled taxes.

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