Got an Education Reform Idea? Too bad.

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Mark Knapp in Federal Way writes about his ideas to reform education. Don’t get me wrong, they’re very good ideas I wish our districts would adopt, but I hate to break the news to him: these kinds of things will never happen.

Why? It’s simple. Education is a political football, just like senior care. Politicians use it to raise money and get elected. The teacher’s unions across our country use it to fatten their paychecks and accomplish their ends. Once a thing becomes a political football, we voters are just strung along, our emotions abused, and we never see what we hope.

The solution is rather simple: Take the football out of the hands of the politicians. That would mean putting the school board, the local residents, businesses, and parents, in complete control of education in their area. With the football firmly in the hands of the people that actually care about the issue, things will happen when they need to happen.

How do we get there from here? First, we have to stop funding education with federal dollars. This gives the federal government some of the political football, because they control how much money is spent and how that money is spent. If the federal government were firm in giving nothing to education, the teacher’s unions, the education reformists, and the politicians wouldn’t even think of going to Washington DC to accomplish their end.

What needs to happen next is getting the state governments out of education. I understand that people feel like we need to tax people in Spokane to fund education in Tacoma, but the problem is that you get into a budget fight in the state house rather than in the schools across the state. The same problem that involving the federal government applies to state governments as well.

State governments should provide the legal constructs that districts need to raise their own money, but I don’t believe they should handle the money at all. State politicians should be focused on state issues, not local issues like schools. It makes no more sense to have the legislature work on zoning issues than to have the counties and cities work on the state budget.

One of the arguments against this kind of broad reform is that people are too stupid to manage their own school. The classic case is the poor single black mother. I think this idea is idiotic, misanthropic, and at worst, racist. There is no person more devoted to education reform than the parents of the poorest kids in our schools. They know that the only hope for their kids is to get smart and get off the street, and they know the only way that can happen is with school reform. Politicians may tinker at reform to get votes and money, but they are not in the same situation as a poor, black single mother in the nation’s poorest and most crime-ridden areas. In a common saying, who’s the chickens and who’s the pigs? Which do you think cares more about what’s for breakfast?

Our nation has a history of being #1 in education. The reason why we were is because poor, uneducated farmers and members of the lowest classes in our inner cities ran our schools. They might not have know much about what it takes to hire good teachers or build good schools, but they were motivated more than any other to see to it that those things happened to their kids.

So, my message to any education reformer: If you really want to reform education, you need to change the system fundamentally. Get politicians out of the mix, meaning, get education out of government and into the hands of the people who care about it most.

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