Sunday, January 30, 2005

Good argument -- Bad strategy

My post from Saturday made a few people upset. Arguing for local control of education is not stupid, they said. Rather, it's a legitimate response to federal intrusion.

True. It'd be hard to argue that every decision should be made from Washington, especially in light of many of the decisions made in Washington over the last four years. But my point is simple: States are not required to participate with No Child Left Behind. Really, they aren't. Any state that votes by a simple majority of their legislature to opt out can do so at any time.

Of course, there's the catch that they'd lose the federal money. The Constitution does not mention education so it's a state responsibility. The national government supplements the costs of education and expects some things be done in return; the courts have consistently ruled that that practice is legal.

So we could argue over whether the federal government should have a role or not, but we'd be arguing only for argument's sake. The federal government will be involved in setting education policy no matter what we think. What's important is how the federal governemnt gets involved. I think NCLB -- as it exists now -- does, and will continue to do, more harm than good. I think it should be resisted. And I think arguing states' rights is a losing strategy.


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