“All politics is local,” as the old saying goes – and the same is supposed to be true of public education. Education isn’t mentioned anywhere in the Constitution, which means the issue is supposed to be left entirely up to the states. And most would prefer that it remain true to its early days as a city or community concern, as evidenced by the rise in local-control charter models.
But politicians seem unable to keep their hands off of public education, and as a result we have seen a gradual increase in federal influence – which has morphed into control – since Jimmy Carter created the federal Department of Education in 1979 as a favor to the teacher unions. And, as business has become more and more politically powerful, we have seen growing corporate influence as well.
Consider, for example, this reporting from the Seattle Education blog, in which they document two very concerning developments:
- To be eligible for federal funding (the leverage the feds need to control what the states do), every state is required to submit an annual plan, one which is supposed to be shaped in part by the community. In Washington state, there was virtually no parent involvement – not a single parent on the state plan workgroup, just a “parent representative” from the Washington State Department of Social and Health Services. (There was also a Parent and Community Engagement Workgroup, but only three of the 22 members were parents, and only one of those three attended their three meetings.)
- Before Washington’s state plan is submitted to the Feds, it’s being sent to two nonprofit education groups – Collaborative for Student Success and Bellwether Education Partners, both of which are funded by the Gates Foundation (also the primary source of support for Common Core efforts) – for “review.” This is apparently common across the states.
It’s been clear for some time that the public has no voice in public education – this is just one more example.