Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Deval-bama turns into Monty Hall

With some Priceline thrown in.

I've explained elsewhere and in-depth my concern about President Obama's power grab on education. He's chosen to continue (and amplify) President Bush's attempt to accrue power to the presidency on education by trying to re-write policy with federal money that forms a tiny portion of education budgets.

Well, it's more nakedly ambitious than I expected. It's more like "Let's Make a Deal!" If a town promises to enter a certain program, they'll get an estimated amount of money (hopefully with more accuracy than the vanished funds once promised under No Child Left Behind), then be locked into an unrevealed set of requirements. See, Deval Patrick is loyally flogging public education districts around the state to sign up for Obama's "Race to the Top" program, wherein towns across the country compete to earn their tax money by most closely appealing to Obama's ideas about what public education should be. Well, Patrick's education department has announced that towns hoping to snare some of this bribe money must send an application to Boston within two weeks. In about a month, Obama will reveal the requirements of the program, and shortly thereafter Governor Patrick will reveal what towns have to do now that they've been chosen for the program.

This is worse than "Let's Make a Deal!". On the game show, you would win something, even if it were 50 pounds of cabbage. On Monty Deval-bama's program, you could win a bill and nothing more. It's kind of like Priceline, actually -- bid for something you're told is valuable, and hope that after you've sent in something of value you won't get shafted.

Deval is expecting Massachusetts towns to lock themselves into a program that promises an undetermined amount of funds in return for an unannounced set of requirements. For instance, a town could receive $100,000 in exchange for the requirement that it hold longer school days -- a move with uncertain research results that would likely cost that district more than $100,000 to implement. If the people of the town, represented through their duly elected school committee, don't want that it's too bad for them. If Obama decides that he wants 200-day school years, regardless of what the people of the various towns want, regardless that such a move won't cover the dollars he's shoveling out of his treasury, too bad. Of course, the hope is that if Deval waves money around in front of the taxpayers of various towns and cities with his right hand, they won't see what Deval is taking away with his right. Anyone who objects is interfering with education progress and sticking the townspeople with the bill.

In the end, though, Race to the Top ends with the town getting screwed, Deval getting a put on the back for pushing this through and Obama getting to push an agenda he can't get through Congress or the local School Committee.

It's Monty Hall meets Priceline. It ain't progressive education policy.

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