Education Reform and the GOP: Is It for Real?

Image via iStock Photo/Kristian Sekulic

Did you know the American public rates the importance of education right up there with taxes and Social Security?  You wouldn’t know that from listening to the news, but it’s true.  That made me happy.  Now if only people wanted to spend more of their taxes on children and make sure kids could bank on having Social Security.  But I digress.

My point of this post is that you probably didn’t hear that Congress is actually trying to do something about education.  Tricky Republicans.  They’re all, cut this, repeal that, Obama sucks, and then when you’re not looking they quietly start passing bills that change the No Child Left Behind Act.  You know, that law everyone has been saying forever is completely broken but kids are still subjected to every day?

Recently, Congress passed a bill to expand charter schools.  This bill is the first step in the Republican’s piecemeal approach to overhauling No Child Left Behind.  If you caught this story, A+ for you.  But I bet most people didn’t.  This bill is fairly benign, hence the lack of media attention.  But the next few bills they have planned won’t be, so it’s work perking your ears.

It’s sounding like Republicans want to take away the federal government’s power to hold schools accountable for their progress and hand it over to the states.   But who can be mad?  Dems fronted about fixing No Child Left Behind for years (it was supposed to be reauthorized in 2007, but never was), but despite multiple attempts to put forth a comprehensive revamp, they ultimately failed.  Even President Obama was so miffed about it he started threatening to exempt states from No Child anyway.

Here’s the problem I see with the Republican’s piecemeal approach.  No one will pay attention and there won’t be adequate public weigh-in.  And that’s probably by design.  See, when you introduce big honking bills like health care reform, everyone and their mom has something to say about it.  But if you do tiny little pieces of a big bill one little drip, drip, drip at a time, people are too busy driving their kid’s lunch to school, helping them with their homework, washing soccer uniforms, etc., etc., to pay attention.

OK class, pay attention.

This piece was cross-posted with permission from One Flew Over the Playpen blog.

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