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Thursday, April 8, 2010

Socialism Alert! Madison School Board Candidates Want National Standards!

I'm a bad citizen: I haven't been paying attention to Madison's upcoming school election. I've head my head down over a different community project with enormous potential for Madison (stay tuned!).

But perhaps our local Glenn Beck fan club should be paying attention. Tuesday's election has the potential to advance the cause of socialism. No, it's not the opt-out: the level of socialism caused by that levy won't change, since the opt-out only sustains the additional taxes we've been paying for the last few years (and is probably necessary to make up for the money Russ Olson took away from the schools during the legislative session).

The new socialism lurks in the school board candidates' responses to a question about national education standards. The Madison Daily Leader asked candidates Ryan Hegg, Tom Farrell, Paul Weist, and Janice Weber their whether they thought national standards are a good idea. Weist was all about them. Hegg also seemed pretty positive. I think Farrell offered a little hesitation (my wife composted Friday's paper already, so I can't check). Weber offered the clearest pro-con analysis, noting national standards might actually be a step down from current state standards and could cost us money.

National education standards are one topic where I put my conservative local-control hat back on (hey! it still fits!). National standards are at best useless, at worst inimical to good education. Heck, I don't even like state standards. When I was teaching high school, state standards created nothing but paperwork as we teachers tried to shoe-horn the good things we were already teaching into rubrics and plans that fit the verbiage generated by committees and bureaucrats in Pierre.

Standards from a central office in Pierre or Washington do nothing to help good teachers provide students good education. They deny the ability of teachers to determine what is best for their students. They take away the autonomy of communities to craft educational programs that best meet their unique needs. And they increase the chances that your curriculum and schoolbooks will be hijacked by narrow-minded ideologues at either end of the political spectrum.

If Madison's education system is so great (and not one of the candidates identified a single thing in our school district that needs changing, not even the dwindling of the high school's most important speech and civics education program), why do we need standards from Washignton or Pierre to tell us what to do? National standards are a waste of time and another sign that we don't believe in our own teachers and our own ability to do school right.


  1. Cory, you come off like a Libertarian here!

  2. Cory, deciding on adopting standards in no way socialism and you fail to make that case here. Socialism would be expecting national resources to achieve arbitrary standards from some central office you had no representation in determining. Your own school board deciding they WANT to use any set of standards they believe are appropriate without being bullied by the NEA or Dept of Ed sounds like the free market of ideas working.

    Progressivism of course is against either scenario, since indoctrination is so much better than standards anyway.

  3. Thanks for noticing, Stan! I haven't shed all of my teenage Libertarianarchism. Strangely, I've just realized that the Dems do a little better at promoting the individual liberty I cherish than the GOP with its corporate favoritism.

    Roger... are you serious, or are you just arguing with me to argue with me? I make a make a more coherent argument that national standards are socialism than do most protestors and Michelle Bachmann when they bandy the word about as a shoddy label for every evil they perceive.

    Do you not recognize that if there really were some cabal interested in indoctrinating the youth, that cabal could better achieve its goals by imposing national standards and then taking control of whatever centralized committee nor special interest would have direct influence over those standards? Do you really want the NEA or DoE or Presidentially appointed curriculum committee writing standards that every school in the nation must follow? What free market of ideas is there when D.C. sets standards for every school? They aren't national standards if everyone doesn't use them; every advantage I hear our local candidates citing hinges on everyone using them. I genuinely can't make sense of your opposition to what I said in opposition to increased national control of education.

  4. Cory: "Do you really want the NEA or DoE or Presidentially appointed curriculum committee writing standards that every school in the nation must follow?"

    Must follow? Whoever said anything about a mandate?
    Standards are an instrament of measurement, like how long an inch is. A national standard is simply a national measurement. Schools can choose to either use it or ignore it in favor of the metric system. A national standard is just information. I am much more concerned about the use of coercion by people who either support them or oppose them. But the standards themselves are utterly innocuous.
    The socialism in the tactics, not the standards

  5. " ... Dems do a little better at promoting the individual liberty I cherish than the GOP with its corporate favoritism."

    H'mmm. I'll have to think about that one!

  6. I know, Stan—that line of reasoning caught me by surprise, too. Think it through, tell me if I've made a fatal error of logic!

  7. You're right, Cory. Democrats can vote for — and give money to — any candidate they want to. Republicans can too, (as long as it's another Republican.)

    Democrats can live any lifestyle they want to. Republicans can too, (as long as they don't get caught.)

    Democrats can be pro-choice, smart, Buddhist, Muslim, agnostic, athiest, gay, pacifist, artistic, etc. and admit it, Republicans... (well, you get the picture.)


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