President Barack Obama will take a different approach than Bush by trying to fund schools with federal dollars instead of leaving it up to the states to foot the bill. Whether states should fund their schools or the federal government should step in is – and always will be – debatable. But what Obama is doing might work. By funding some of these buckling schools, the federal government can claim more jurisdiction over how the schools are managed. The fact is, if these schools are failing to meet standards, there needs to be no argument about who is in charge and who can make the big changes.
As a fan of decentralization, I usually lean toward community control of most education systems, but let’s face facts - some of these communities just do not have control of their schools. No children should have to wait for their community to catch up to national standards. Obama knows that if he gives these schools even a little bit of help financially, and they still cannot get off the ground, then they will have little to argue when the school is taken over by the government.
Obama was right to keep the program in place, because there needs to be accountability. People get evaluated in their jobs all the time, why should the education profession be any different? I know if I were a parent of a child in a neighborhood with a poor performing school, I would not be defending the school.
There are at least some kids that are not having their education made into a priority at home, and it has nothing to do with race or nationality or economic status.
Mayor Michael Bloomberg, like Obama and Bush and Department of Education Secretary Arne Duncan, knows that poor performing schools need to be shut down or re-managed. You read in this column two weeks ago about the dire statistics on which the Los Angeles Unified School District Superintendant John Deasy laments.
Maybe funding schools more at the federal level will work
Ladies and Gentleman…We Have Ladies and Gentlemen
One of the last holdouts, Monsignor McClancy Memorial High School is going co-educational in 2012. Years ago, the school sent out a survey to the alumni to gauge whether moving from an all-male school to a co-ed school would be a welcome idea. Single-sex education has its benefits, such as fewer distractions, and McClancy has always been a good school for kids who wanted a good education, but might not have the polished pedigree of other private school students. McClancy has been successful in turning out good citizens; many of whom are firefighters, police officers, and teachers.
Unfortunately, private schools are experiencing lower enrollments and these changes are needed to keep schools open. Saving a successful school trumps policy preferences. As Congressman Anthony Weiner editorialized last year, changes have to be made to keep such schools open. Once a private school is shut down, the process of opening a new one is not easy.
If the government is going to start shutting down poor performing schools, the timing is perfect for private schools to pick up the slack. There are serious constitutional questions about the government subsidizing religious-based institutions, but there has to be a way to match up the diminishing enrollments of successful schools with the problem of overcrowded failing schools. The answer might be right in front of us.