Safeguarding Our Independence
School Choice Weekly #43
Liberty is precious, and precious things require careful preservation. Like an exquisite but delicate flower, liberty needs nurturing and protection. One of the institutions America’s founders created to preserve our culture of liberty and self-government was education.
In their day, education was not a monolithic system controlled by national nannies. It was an institution similar to, and springing from, the family. When we say the word “family” we automatically think of our own, but when we say “education” we often now think of a sprawling system of mandates, money, and power players. Where an education provides nourishment for a mind that loves and thus defends liberty, however, it is always intensely personal and local.
This week, when every year we celebrate the uniquely American tradition of hard-won independence, is an excellent time to ponder these words of Russell Kirk, and apply them to education.
Conservatism’s most conspicuous difficulty in our time is that conservative leaders confront a people who have come to look upon society, vaguely, as a homogeneous mass of identical individuals whose happiness may be obtained by direction from above, through legislation or some scheme of public instruction. Conservatives endeavor to teach humanity once more that the germ of public affections (in Burke’s words) is ‘to learn to love the little platoon we belong to in society.’
A task for conservative leaders is to reconcile individualism––which sustained nineteenth century life even while it starved the soul of the nineteenth century––with the sense of community that ran strong in Burke and Adams. If conservatives cannot redeem the modern masses from the sterile modern mass–mind, then a miserable collectivism impoverishing body and soul impends over Britain and America––the collectivism that has submerged Eastern Europe and much of Asia and Africa, the collectivism (as Orwell wrote) of ‘the stream–lined men who think in slogans and talk in bullets.’
All politics is local, and so is all education. An education worthy of the name teaches us what is good, that we may love it. In loving what is good, and teaching this to children, we may yet hope to preserve and regenerate the country we also love.
SOURCE: The Imaginative Conservative
IN THIS ISSUE:
- INDIANA: The anti-choice Indiana Department of Education says voucher students cost the state $16 million this past school year. Actually, this economic analyst says, voucher students save taxpayers at least that much, if not much more.
- POLLS: The Friedman Foundation’s annual school choice poll has arrived. Notable findings: Higher percentages of Americans support school choice, in all its forms, and the support is especially strong among coveted demographics such as low-income, minority, and young voters. Support for and opposition to Common Core is split, but most voters say the issue makes little difference to them.
- DEMOGRAPHICS: Jason Bedrick parses several polls and finds support for school choice is higher among younger Americans. If this trend continues, he says, expect a tidal wave of public support for school choice in coming decades.
- FLORIDA: Gov. Rick Scott, in a tight re-election race, says he wants to expand school choice in his state even more and reduce state regulations. Florida is one of the states furthest ahead in establishing school choice.
- OKLAHOMA: The state board of education is suing the state over a new law ousting Common Core. The board contends it’s illegal for the legislature to set curriculum mandates and tests, although the legislature has done both for decades.
- TESTS: The percentage of U.S. children who will take a federally funded national Common Core test has dropped to half the original percentage. It’s now at 42 percent.
- OKLAHOMA: The state’s pro-Common Core sitting state superintendent was ousted by voters in last week’s primary. The winning candidate ran on an anti-Common Core platform.
- POLLS: Support for Common Core among parents of school-age children has plummeted since November, from 52 percent support to 34 percent support, a new poll finds.
- STATE SUPERINTENDENTS: Rick Hess thinks state superintendents are telling federal officials what they want to hear rather than the truth about their frustrations with Common Core.
- EDTECH: A series of studies are finding that giving kids computers does not reduce achievement gaps between poor and wealthier kids. It actually increases those gaps, because parents in wealthier families direct their kids’ computer use, while parents in poor families typically don’t.
- DATA COLLECTION: The U.S. House of Representatives has passed a bill that requires parents to give up their newborn’s DNA to the federal government, with no opt-out clause. At least one state is linking such genetic data with its K–12 databases.
- SPECIAL ED: The Obama administration has decided unilaterally to change how it oversees special education programs. It will now judge them according to how disabled students perform on tests. Special education is one of the largest areas of federal education spending.
- SUPREME COURT: The U.S. Supreme Court has ruled unions cannot forcibly unionize home caregivers, and it also limited unions’ practice of requiring non-members to pay “agency fees” for union benefits.
- RELIGIOUS FREEDOM: Human rights demand that Catholic schools should be free to fire gay employees for modeling beliefs their school stands against.
Thank you for reading! If you need a quicker fix of news about school choice, you can find daily updates online under the Ed News Roundup at http://news.heartland.org/education.