What Do You Think?

Ok, here’s a discussion… recently, I think it was Santorum who said that the Department of Education should be abolished. It’s too big, it has the third largest budget of the Federal Government, and much of that money goes toward enforcing the much-defiled No Child Left Behind law. A series of blog posts appeared at “that other blog” that some of us visit, discussing the idea of whether it should be abolished or not. The introductory post appears here.

So what do you think? Should the DoE be abolished, and full responsibility for public education be placed in the hands of the states? Should it stay in place as it is? Should it be cut back, left in place as only a guideline-setting body? Or should we go in a complete opposite direction with our educational system?

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11 Responses to What Do You Think?

  1. mssc54 says:

    I think Constitutionally, education should be left to the States.

    • Laura says:

      I do, too, Michael, but I also acknowledge that, as a country, there should be some sort of national standard, goals, something, to make sure that everyone kinda stays even. Does that make sense? Not necessarily testing, but a set of standards. Maybe a thing like the state governors’ meeting. Don’t they get together once a year to swap stories and see what each other is doing? Kind of like that. A summit, of sorts.

      • mssc54 says:

        Good points on the National Standards but isn’t that what got US into this fix in the first place? Perhaps if the various states recognize their standards are affecting the general welfair of their citizenry…

        But, as usual, PARENTS should be the first line of insuring their child receives a decent education.

  2. SKL says:

    Well, this is a good question. Easy to be in two minds about this. Interesting that we didn’t need this department until Carter (when education started really going to hell thanks to court-ordered integration). Honestly, I should know this, but what does the Dept of Education really do for our kids? I know that at least where I live, federal money is the minority of the funding. We could probably live without it, or perhaps more relevantly, the funds that are truly needed could be administered through other agencies.

    Take special education, for example. Every child is entitled to an education that is appropriate for him/her, and sometimes that is a costly endeavor. I assume that the special accommodations are funded federally, as they would be too burdensome for small districts to cover. But could the funding not be provided by health and human services or whatever?

    NCLB is every teacher’s favorite thing to bash, so maybe it needs to be thrown out, I don’t know. It sounds good on paper – lots of funding for remediating kids who need it – but if there is no enthusiasm for it, how can it work?

    Honestly, I sometimes think we ought to throw out the baby with the bathwater on this. There is so much waste in the system. Large interests have come to depend on unnecessary spending, and as we all know, it’s much easier to give than to take away. The idea of “revamping” the system could end up like tax reform or health care reform – a thousand more pages of law, more confusion, less effectiveness, and still more waste. And in the case of the highly unionized school system, more and more and more excuses for insufficient output.

    Before the Department of Education existed, kids learned how to read and write and, if they were so motivated, how to get accepted into college. I don’t see where any of that has gotten better over time. We used to compete at a much higher level internationally. Kids used to learn skills that were relevant for them individually. A high school diploma meant something. I venture to say that teachers by and large did not hate their jobs like so many do today.

    As for national standards, on one hand, they don’t seem realistic, and on the other hand, they invite “scope creep.” Will a liberal government require all schools to teach kids about homosexuality at a young age, as some districts now do in Kindergarten? Accepting federal money comes with many unhealthy strings. It might be better to just cut the strings. Schools could still set standards based on the abundance of information available about what’s possible for kids, what universities expect, etc.

    • Laura says:

      I agree with the diploma thing. A HS diploma today doesn’t mean diddly squat. Frankly, neither does a Bachelor’s. When I went to school, the mantra was, “get a college degree. You can get it in damn near anything, and you’ll get a job, because they just want you to have a degree.”

      Now, it’s “if you want to apply for this basketweaving job, you MUST have a Bachelor’s in Basketweaving. If you don’t have a BB, don’t even bother, because we won’t even LOOK at your resume to see that you do, in fact, know how to weave baskets because you come from a long line of basketweavers and could probably teach it to the basketweaving professors. But if you don’t have that specific degree, we don’t want you.”

      And it doesn’t matter what other skills you may have. The real pisser in all of this is, those who are getting the jobs have NO skills whatsoever, outside of whatever their degree field is. I talk to people all the time who send me samples of coworkers’ correspondence… “look at this. Can you BELIEVE this person is employed here?” And you spend ten minutes trying to decipher the misspellings and grammar errors, and punctuation fails.

      But, hey, at least they have the right degree!! They went to college!

      I am convinced that a college degree now is the equivalent of a HS diploma when I was younger. It’s pathetic. Thanks dept of ed!! (rant done. for now)

      • mssc54 says:

        I actually heard our local Chrysler dealer advertising on the radio today for a mechanic! When was the last time you heard that.

        Some people just aren’t cut out for no book learnin!

  3. Joy says:

    Wow. This can get deep. In general, I agree with you Laura. Even your comments “over there” were spot on. I’d like to see the state and the “people” take back their schools. The bigger they get, the less it’s personal.

    As someone who worked for the public school for 15 years, money is so wasted. Everyone has to keep their budgets coming so they spend every cent of it even when unnecessary because “if you don’t spend it it goes to a “slush fund” and you lose it.” There’s a HUGE amount of wasting of money going on. I think every single budget, math, science etc should be gone over with a fine tooth comb every single year. Unless you’re “in it” you don’t see it but it’s ridiculous.

    I also think parents have taken too much control away from administrators and that has caused a lot of discipline problems. I had a kid hit the back of my head with an apple and the principal didn’t want me to write him up because he didn’t want to deal with the mother. That was my last year.

    I think I’d like to keep things the way they are but totally revamp things. Some things are so asinine and yet other things are totally overlooked.

    • Laura says:

      That was a BIG reason that I ended up not going into teaching, and that decision was reinforced when I worked in a middle school. We had a couple of guys who were defiant and always causing trouble. I had no problems writing them up, giving detentions, etc., but our Band Director would often overturn the detentions (especially) if the kid “promised to never do it again”. He was scared of the kids and scared of the parents. I wasn’t, and after a very short time, the kids didnt’ mess with me anymore. But I do remember one parent telling me, “My child doesn’t like you!” And I looked her square in the eye and said, “I really don’t care. I’m not here to be liked.” That set her back quite a bit. But she totally steamrolled the band director. I really hate parents like that.

  4. Nikki says:

    It certainly needs a lot of changes but I’m not sure about getting rid of it completely. To be honest, I’ll have to dive into this and learn more about it. Something I should do anyways.

    I do like the thought of the standards being by state! That much I know!

    I’ll have to read more about this whole issue! Right now, I feel dumb…lol I need to go smarten up!

  5. SKL says:

    It strikes me that we taxpayers know so little about what the federal executive departments do withour money. Myself included. How did I allow myself to gloss over this all my life? It’s actually pretty important to know which aspects of education are run by the feds. I do know most is NOT. But which parts are? How can we intelligently debate and vote if we don’t know where the problems are coming from? Is the Dept of Education more like an appendix or more like a liver?

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