Like frogs boiling

The good citizens of the Third District apparently believe that education is a function of local and state governments, not the feds, according to a constituent survey conducted by Rep. Jim Ramstad's office:

Do you support the President's proposal to expand the federal testing mandates of "No Child Left Behind" to public high schools?

YES: 40%
NO: 60%

According to the U.S. Department of Education:

The president's 2006 [budget] request includes a comprehensive proposal that builds on the stronger accountability provisions of the No Child Left Behind Act to improve the quality of secondary education and ensure that every student not only graduates from high school, but graduates prepared to enter college or the workforce with the skills to succeed.

The president's budget provides nearly $1.5 billion for this High School Initiative, and includes $1.24 billion for a High School Intervention initiative that would focus on strengthening high school education and providing specific interventions. The president's high school program also includes $250 million to help states develop and implement new annual High School Assessments in reading/language arts and mathematics by the 2009-10 school year.

My friend Cheri Pierson Yecke would presumably go along with this expansion of NCLB, but this talk of pouring billions of new federal money into education takes me back to a conversation I had with a buddy over at Famous Dave's before the 2000 elections. We were talking about candidate George W. Bush, and how his state's education policies seemed to mirror Bill Clinton's (centralized, top-down accountability, vocational slant rather than localized and knowledge-based). Our heartburn that evening didn't come from the barbecue, and with good reason. According to the Department of Education, President Bush has opened the federal money spigot since signing NCLB into law (with a corresponding loss of local control):

  • An $8 billion, or 46 percent, increase for No Child Left Behind programs

  • A $10.3 billion increase in overall funding for federal elementary and secondary education programs

  • An increase of $4.6 billion, or 52 percent, for Title I Grants for economically disadvantaged students

  • A $4.8 billion, or 75 percent, increase for grants to states under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) Part B [also known as "special education"]
Like frogs in water slowly brought to a boil, we are headed for a nationalized public education system without realizing it. This causes conservatives more than a little heartburn, but what are we going to do, vote for Hillary? Remember School-to-Work??