This post was originally posted at The New Democrat on WordPress
There’s obviously not a lot that I agreed with President George W. Bush on and not much I liked about his presidency. And I even consider him to be the worst president of my lifetime. I actually like his father as president even though I would’ve voted against him twice if I was eligible to vote in the late 1980s and early 1990s. But one thing that I liked and respect about President G.W. Bush was his push for real education reform and push to deal with poverty in America.
President Bush saw education as the civil rights issue of the 21st Century and said things like the dangers of soft-bigotry of low expectations. Now I don’t like No Child Left Behind, because as the late great Progressive Democratic Senator Paul Wellstone said back in 2002 when the laws was past, “NCLB has mandates in it that Congress will never fund and will devastate states and localities that have to try to make up for the lack of funding to deal with these new federal mandates.” But at least the effort was there from the Bush Administration to deal with education and poverty in America.
A new federal education bill should be about fixing low-income and low-performing schools. Where a lot if not most of our low-income students attend school every year and eliminating the school to prison pipeline in America. Build off of Race to The Top and Common Core from the Obama Administration and reward schools that have high standards. And support things like public school choice including charter schools. And set up a new federal funding stream to help finance public schools in America. So states and localities can move away from regressive property taxes to finance schools. And so we can get adequate funding into low-income schools.
The teachers unions say that the problem with public education is that we underfund it and spend too much on corrections in America. And what they would do is essentially spend more money in a the current bad system that doesn’t produce enough high school graduates let along college graduates. And the school choice crowd on the Right will say the problem with public education is that government is involved in the first place. At least at the federal level and with Libertarians saying the problem with public education is that it is public in the first place.
They are both wrong and with lets say the Tea Party wing of the Republican Party they are completely wrong. Spending more money on a bad system will just make that system worst because the people in it won’t feel the need to reform. Eliminating federal funding and standards will mean low-income schools in America won’t even get the resources that they are currently getting for education. And they are already underfunded. Education is one of the top three sectors of the American economy and that alone makes to a federal issue. We have to have people with the skills to do well in America. And need to know what is working and what isn’t.
This is not about spending more money on a bad system or eliminating public education funding even at the federal level all together. It is about making public education as strong as it can in America with the feds playing their limited part and seeing that public schools are as good as they possibly can be. You do that with more funding for low-income schools. Paying good teachers more and well and encouraging highly qualified people to go into education and teach in low-income areas. And giving parents the option to send their kids to the best school for their kids. Instead of the central office doing that for them. So public schools know they need to do a good job in order to get new students every year. So public education works for everyone in America who goes through it.