The Sun never shines on education

I am only somewhat puzzled and surprised by The Sun’s editorial this morning on the positions of Senator McCain and Obama on Education.

First off, the editorial notes the following truism about the boondoggle known as No Child Left Behind:

Senators Obama and McCain also both acknowledge that the federal No Child Left Behind Act passed under the Bush administration is inadequate. The law requires schools to make steady improvements in instructional quality each year as measured by student performance on standardized achievement tests. But it doesn’t provide money for schools to hire better teachers, upgrade curriculum and equipment or create after-school enrichment programs. The law is a classic example of an unfunded mandate that leaves struggling states and local governments to pick up the tab for costly federal initiatives.

Yes, everybody on both sides can agree that No Child Left Behind is a cataclysmic failure of trying to solve local-level problems with national-level solutions. And I will concede that NCLB is a large unfunded mandate that is really putting a crimp into budgets at the state and local level.

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And then, the Sun goes off the reservation:

And that’s where the main difference between the candidates lies: Senator Obama promises to fully fund the NCLB law and make quality public education available to every child.

It is completely illogical (other than nothing that the fact that the Sun is in the bag for Obama) to insinuate that Obama clearly has a workable plan. Just one paragraph before, the Sun alluded to the fact that NCLB is a failure. Now, somehow, through the magic of The One, NCLB will suddenly work solely because he will “fully fund” it, whatever that means. Pay no mind to the fact that it is an unworkable, liberal solution to the problem that was strangely championed by George W. Bush. Never mind the fact that both conservatives and liberals dislike this law. The Sun somehow thinks that fully funding it will create a magic solution for education, and that money will make NCLB’s problems vanish.

Of course Obama’s plan goes a little beyond that, proposing all sorts of feel-good programs that will bankrupt the budget, including compulsory pre-school and a national “Zero-to-Five” education plan that sounds like federalized education taken to all its Marxist glory.

So naturally, when Senator McCain proposes something really different, the Sun throws him under the bus:

Senator McCain, by contrast, says the law’s shortcomings merely show that parents should have more choice about where to send their children to school; that’s why he favors giving money directly to parents, in the form of vouchers, to pay for private school tuition

God forbid Senator McCain and those in favor of school choice actually want to get kids, you know, educated. But the editorial was not content to stop there, no, the race and class card was next out of the deck:

In a city such as Baltimore, the problem with Mr. McCain’s plan is obvious. Even if substantial numbers of parents took advantage of vouchers to flee to private schools, there still would be tens of thousands of children trapped in troubled or failing public schools. And those schools would have less hope than ever of getting federal help to get better. In a reprise of the racially segregated school systems of the past, such a plan would re-create a dual school system, based on class and funded by taxpayer dollars, that would benefit a lucky few at the expense of the vast majority.

Of course, what the ivory tower crowd fails to realize is that there is already a dual school system; private schools for those who can afford it, public schools for those who can’t. And guess what? Those private schools are, currently, benefiting a “lucky few” even while those parents still have to pay taxes to fund the schools attended by the vast majority. And her is an interesting quote from Senator McCain’s website which should really illuminate the issue for everybody:

If a school will not change, the students should be able to change schools. John McCain believes parents should be empowered with school choice to send their children to the school that can best educate them just as many members of Congress do with their own children. He finds it beyond hypocritical that many of those who would refuse to allow public school parents to choose their child’s school would never agree to force their own children into a school that did not work or was unsafe. They can make another choice. John McCain believes that is a fundamental and essential right we should honor for all parents.

Does it not make more sense to ensure that more children have the opportunity to improve their station in life? Isn’t it more important to provide more opportunities for children to learn, succeed, and avoid being drawn in to urban drug culture and criminality? Apparently not to the Sun’s editorial board, who would rather continue throwing money at policies and programs that don’t work as opposed to trying something to benefit the children.

The Sun should be ashamed for expressing support for Obama’s so-called education plan. Continuing what has failed generations of school children sentences a new generation of students to the continued acceptance of failure in the public classroom….and it’s certainly not a change that anybody can believe in. Senator McCain’s plan is certainly not a panacea, but it does not accept continued failure in the classroom as an option, which Barack Obama seems content with.


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