Monday, July 23, 2012

Be Libertarian with us, Delaware! Episode one: Public education

The pressing need to do something about public education in Delaware just keeps on growing.

From the citizen pushback against corporate lobbying to the latest revelations about Pencader Charter, we are looking at a system wherein students and their education have become not the end, but a means to political power.

At the Federal level there is patronage and special interest power:  one after the other presidents of both parties have elevated ideologues and half-baked visionaries to the cabinet level and allowed them not just to experiment on our children with high stakes testing, No Child Left Behind, or Race to the Top, but they have also empowered these Federal bureaucrats to take unprecedented control of all public education.

And things haven't gotten better for our kids.

At the State level a corresponding bureaucracy of power and entitlement has grown bloated from Federal and corporate money, raked off at the expense of teachers and students in the classrooms in the name of data analysis or statewide assessments that change with roughly the same frequency as well-dressed people change their socks.  First we had performance assessment, but that was too expensive; then we had the DSTP, but that didn't satisfy anybody (because, hint, hint, it was never effectively normed and validated); then we got DCAS, which at least created the initial impression of movement; and soon we are to have . . .  something else.

Want to know how many elementary reading and math specialists could have been provided for what we've flushed down the toilet in meaningless tests and useless standards?

And things haven't gotten better for our kids.

The politicians and the bureaucrats to demonize our school boards and our teachers with programs and "interventions" that have no basis in research, and threaten to take away millions of dollars from the stakeholders in any district who dare to challenge Federal and State authority.

Education bureaucrats publicly imply that a school board member standing up for his teachers is a racist.

A good teacher who won a school board election is mocked and effectively lynched in effigy as a communist.

But no longer.

Last May, all across Delaware parents and teachers voted for advocates of local school board control.

They voted against the Federal tail wagging the dog of public education.

But still the politicians and educrats paid no mind:  they nominated and confirmed (in 45 minutes!) an individual with marginal "real world" qualifications to be our next Secretary of Education.

Where are our Democratic and Republican politicians when it is time to stand up for local control of our public schools?

They're standing solidly behind Vision 2015 and Race to the Top, that's where.

It has to stop.

About ten days ago, Scott Gesty, the Libertarian candidate for US House, made news with a strong statement advocating the dramatic reduction of Federal power over our local public schools.

Now, on the State and local level, Libertarian Party of Delaware candidates have joined together in a strong statement on putting the local control back into public education:

The Federal government provides less than 7% of Delaware’s public education funding, and yet that small percentage comes with mandates, compliance requirements, and strings that take control of our classrooms away from parents, teachers, and elected school boards.  The Delaware Department of Education runs roughshod over our local school boards, using questionable data to declare failed schools, while committing millions to under-researched “reform” initiatives that have yet to demonstrate any ability to improve education.  The General Assembly has abdicated its oversight role in public education by rubber-stamping the appointment of a Secretary of Education whose credentials for leadership are as thin as his political connections are substantial.
This has to stop.  Libertarian candidates propose the following to begin the process of placing control of public education back where it belongs:
1.      The State Board of Education should become an elected board, with members elected by, and responsible to, Delaware citizens and not the Governor.
2.      The position of Secretary of Education should be abolished and removed from the Governor’s cabinet, to be replaced by the traditional State Superintendent of Education, who will be hired and (if necessary) fired by the State Board.
3.      The Delaware Department of Education should be converted from a supervisory and compliance organization to a support organization for the school districts.  Unless specifically authorized by Federal statute, DEDOE should be forbidden to take over 10% of any Federal grants or aid as a pass-through administrative cost.  DEDOE should be stripped of its authority to mandate high-stakes standardized tests as sole or primary determinants of promotion or graduation.
4.      Local school boards should become the primary mechanisms for approving/supervising charter schools, determining the measures of student success/graduation, and developing policies for teacher evaluation.
Like all great ideas, this is a simple proposal.  Return the oversight of public education to Delaware citizens. Empower parents, teachers, and school boards, and let them be responsible for the outcome.

If the Democratic and Republican candidates have something to propose except more of the same, then let them come forward with proposals.

Let's make this year's elections to the General Assembly a referendum on who should control our public schools.

Be Libertarian with us, Delaware, this one time, and the Libertarian Party of Delaware will help you take back your public schools.  If you don't like the responsibility that brings, in the next election cycle you can vote the bureaucrats and politicians back into power over what happens in your child's classroom.


anonone said...

The Libertarian Party is against ALL public funding of education and believes that education for children should not be compulsory.

In other words, only the children of parents who want to and can afford to send them to school would be able to go to school.

All other children: tough luck.

That is all you need to know about the Libertarian Party's educational policy.

delacrat said...


From the Libertarian platform....

"Parents should have control of and responsibility for all funds expended for their children's education."

How can you as a public educator promote this?

tom said...

Apparently it was insufficiently obvious: the indented bit in the middle is quoted directly from the recently adopted 2012 Libertarian Party of Delaware Platform.

So the Non-Libertarians trying to tell us what our platform says should STFU.

anonone said...

Tom, in typical Libertarian fashion, you try to deny what your platform actually says by somehow implying that only true-believer Libertarians can understand it or even quote it. This is pretty much what most dogmatic political and religious fanatics believe about their ultimate truths.

Furthermore, as your posts consistently show, the only way you are capable of defending your Libertarian wackiness is by trying to tell others to shut-up.

How Libertarian of you.