Tuesday, November 09, 2004

The view from New Hampshire

Here's a fairly predictable article from the Nashua Telegraph. It's predictable because the unions and most teachers are against NCLB while the school board folks are for it. Nothing new there. But look at this:

Republican state Sen.-elect Peter Bragdon, a member of the Milford School Board, supports the idea of No Child Left Behind, but would like to see the law have more flexibility. He said some of the goals of the program are unrealistic.

“We can’t punish people because they’re at 99.9 percent,” Bragdon said.

The program is not as flexible as it should be, Bragdon said, because it is controlled from the top down. It allows the federal government to interfere in local schools more than is necessary, he added.

Flexibility. I hear it over and over again from people who are in the center on NCLB-- that is, people who aren't paranoid about a conservative movement to destroy public schools and people who don't believe that testing is the panacea for all of education's ills.

Also, I wonder whether we will hear more articulate, principled conservative opposition -- like that of Sen.-elect Bragdon -- to what is, in effect, the largest federal intrusion in education ever.

I'm teaching a unit on the Constitution this quarter. If I'm not mistaken, the Tenth Amendment states that any powers not specifically enumerated for the federal government are reserved for the states. Conservatives have historically jealously guarded this final piece of the Bill of Rights. Why not now?

To my knowledge, there is nothing in the Constitution that states that the federal government controls education (there was no formal education system in 1787). So shouldn't education be controlled by the states? Any conservatives out there want to comment on this? Isn't there a vital conservative principle at stake here? Doesn't NCLB constitute a dangerous precedent?


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